Two people dead from coronavirus in Iran

Two residents of the city of Qom die after testing positive for the new coronavirus.

Elad Benari ,


Two people have died in Iran after testing positive on Wednesday for the new coronavirus, the health ministry said, according to AFP.

These are the Islamic Republic's first cases of the disease.

YJC news agency, a branch of state television, reported that the pair who died were Iranian citizens and residents of the city of Qom.

They are also the first deaths from the COVID-19 virus in the Middle East and only the seventh and eighth outside China, where the outbreak has killed more than 2,000 people.

State news agency IRNA quoted Kianoush Jahanpour, a ministry spokesman, as saying the virus was detected in two elderly people with immunity problems in Qom, south of Tehran.

"Following the recent cases of chronic respiratory diseases in Qom, two of the patients tested positive in preliminary tests," it quoted him as saying.

"Unfortunately both passed away in the intensive care unit due to old age and issues with their immune system."

Qom is a center for Islamic studies attracting scholars from Iran and beyond. However, the head of the health ministry's contagious diseases unit said the pair who died were Qom residents who were not known to have left Iran.

"These two were from Qom and visited (us) two days ago after falling ill... they didn't even have a history of going abroad," IRNA quoted Mohammad Mehdi Gouya as saying.

The United Arab Emirates last month became the first country in the Middle East to report cases of the coronavirus strain.

Egypt has also reported cases, the first of which was recorded last week.