#COVID19: Iran call for religious gatherings to be suspended in Qom as KLM airlines extends ban on China flights due to coronavirus

Iranian health officials urged all religious gatherings to be suspended in Qom, news agency ISNA said, after two more people tested positive for the coronavirus in the holy city, where two had previously died from infection.

In all, three more people had tested positive for the virus, an Iranian health ministry spokesman said: "Two people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Qom and one person in Arak, bringing the total of confirmed cases to five in Iran," spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said in a tweet.

Two Iranians have died in hospital after testing positive for the new coronavirus in the holy Shi’ite city of Qom, the head of the city’s University of Medical Sciences told Mehr news agency on Wednesday.

“Two Iranians, who tested positive earlier today for new coronavirus, died of respiratory illness,” the official told Mehr.

Iran’s health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur confirmed their death on Twitter.

Iran confirmed earlier on Wednesday its first two cases of the virus, government spokesman Ali Rabiei said, shortly after reports that preliminary tests on the two had come back positive.

The health ministry said earlier that the patients had been put in isolation.

Rabiei did not give the nationality of the two people infected, but some reports suggested that they were Iranian nationals.

Meanwhile, KLM which is the Dutch arm of Air France KLM, has said it will extend a ban on flights to China due to the coronavirus outbreak.

"All KLM flights to Beijing and Shanghai have been suspended until 28 March 2020," the airline said on its website. "Flights are expected to resume on 29 March 2020."

Official death toll from the new coronavirus in mainland China passed 2,000 on Wednesday although the number of new cases fell for a second straight day, as authorities tightened already severe containment measures in the worst-hit city of Wuhan.

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