EghtesadOnline: Iran has confirmed 43 cases of people infected with the new coronavirus, with eight reported dead by Sunday noon, health officials said.
The Health Ministry has identified 15 new cases of the COVID-19 virus and three more deaths, raising the total number of the infected to 43, and bringing the death toll to eight, the head of the ministry's Media Center announced.
According to data released by Kianoush Jahanpour, the epicenter of the virus outbreak in Iran is Qom, speculated to have been spread by a businessman with regular travels to China. Up to now, all those who have contracted the disease live in central and northern parts of Iran, IRNA reported.
With Iran reporting the highest number of deaths outside mainland China, neighboring countries have started to take precautionary measures to halt the spread of the disease, according to Financial Tribune.
Kuwait has suspended travels to and from Iran and it has barred ships coming from Iran to enter the country. Iraq has also banned flights from Iran.
Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan have closed borders with Iran as a safety measure, fearing the spike in the number of deaths from the new coronavirus.
Following Turkey's announcement that it has started to screen all travelers arriving from Iran, officials from Iran's Health Ministry said all travelers to Turkey are to be tested and issued a health certificate 24 hours before their flights leave for the neighboring country.
President Hassan Rouhani has ordered the health minister to set up a committee and mobilize resources to coordinate efforts to stem the coronavirus spread.
Health Minister Saeed Namaki is set to attend a parliamentary session on Monday to update the lawmakers on the epidemic. Lawmakers have advised the public to refrain from traveling in the New Year holidays that start on March 20.
Namaki said although they will sanitize buses, trains and airplanes, it is best for the public not to make unnecessary trips. Means of public transportation are also being disinfected on a regular basis.
The minister has also asked ICT ministry to send frequent educative text messages to the public on preventive measures.
The Culture Ministry has canceled all cultural events, including concerts and closed down cinemas across the country until the end of the week. All sports events have been canceled for 10 days starting Monday.
Following a mandate issued by the Health Ministry and the Science Ministry to close some universities until the weekend, the University of Tehran ordered the evacuation of dormitories on Sunday. Schools have been shut down for several days in a number of provinces.
The Health Ministry has asked officials to bar restaurants and cafes from serving hookah, which is usually shared among several people. Free masks are to be distributed among the people, with the priority given to cities that have reported coronavirus cases.
The total number of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus has exceeded 77,000, with over 2,300 deaths worldwide.
Almost all deaths have taken place in mainland China, the epicenter of the disease, followed by Iran and South Korea, reporting eight and six deaths, respectively.
The East Asian country has confirmed over 600 cases of the new coronavirus while Tehran has only reported 43.