Iraq says Iranian national its first confirmed novel coronavirus case

Iran rejects MP’s claim of 50 coronavirus deaths: Deputy Health Minister

Iraq has confirmed its first novel coronavirus case, an Iranian national living in the southern city of Najaf, according to health officials.

Iraq had blocked travel to and from Iran days before announcing that the religious seminary student in Najaf is its first confirmed case. The case brings the total countries in the Middle East with confirmed cases to eight.

Iranian health ministry on Monday said twelve people have died and up to 61 have been infected with the new coronavirus.

Iran's Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi has said during a news conference on state TV, rebutting claims from a member of parliament that 50 people had died in the country from the virus.

"We will announce any figures (we have) on the number of deaths throughout the country. We pledge to be transparent about the reporting of figures," government spokesman Ali Rabiei said in a news conference aired live on state television.

“If the number of coronavirus victims in Qom is a quarter of what media outlets are reporting, I will resign. The figure is incorrect, and we are sure of our statistics,” said Iran’s Deputy Health Minister, rejecting a claim by an MP that coronavirus has claimed the lives of around 50 people in the city of Qom alone.

Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi's comments came after MP Ahmad Amirabadi Farhani, who represents Qom, suggested that coronavirus is far more widespread in Iran than previously thought. 

The Iranian government announced on Monday morning that the total stood at 12 in the entire country, raising questions over its reporting of the crisis.

On Monday afternoon, Health Ministry Spokesman Kianush Jahanpour revised the total number of cases across the country upwards by 18, from 47 to 61. The death toll remained at 12.

According to Jahanpour, there were eight new cases in Qom, three in Tehran, two each in Markazi, Isfahan, and Gilan, and one in Hamedan.

Amirbadi Farhani warned against trusting the government numbers and said they had been slow to report the true outbreak of the virus in the country.

The government is not “worried enough” about the outbreak, he said, stating: “It is true that we should keep calm, but we must not act like nothing has happened.”

(English Alarabiya / Aljazeera)

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