This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Iran has reported two more deaths among 13 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths to four and infections to 18.
“Thirteen new cases have been confirmed,” Iran’s Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said on February 21. “Unfortunately, two of them have lost their lives.”
The newly reported cases included “seven in Qom, four in Tehran, and two in Gilan” on the Caspian Sea coast, Jahanpur tweeted.
“Most of the cases are still either Qom residents” or were people who had come from Qom to other provinces “in recent days and weeks,” he added.
The COVID-19 outbreak was first detected in Iran on February 19, when officials said virus killed two elderly people in the Shi’ite holy city of Qom.
They were the first confirmed deaths from the coronavirus in the Middle East.
Jahanpur added that Iran had so far received four shipments of medical kits used to detect COVID-19 from the World Health Organization.
Following the announcement of the deaths in Iran, neighboring Armenia’s health minister, Arsen Torosyan, said on February 21 that Armenian health authorities were monitoring the situation at its border with the Islamic republic.
“In addition to anti-epidemic measures, monitoring passengers crossing the Meghri border crossing, as well as passengers arriving in Armenia from Iran by plane, has been strengthened,” Torosyan wrote in a Facebook post.
Thousands of Iranian tourists visit Armenia in March during annual celebrations of the Persian New Year.
On February 20, Iraq clamped down on travel to and from Iran.
The Health Ministry in Baghdad said people from Iran had been barred from entering Iraq “until further notice.”
Kuwait’s national carrier Kuwait Airways also announced that it would suspend all of its flights to Iran.