Iran says 12 dead from coronavirus, rejects claims of higher death toll

Iran's government says only 12 people died nationwide from new coronavirus, rejects claims by Qom lawmaker that 50 had died.

Elad Benari ,

Coronavirus positive
Coronavirus positive

Iran's government said on Monday that 12 people had died nationwide from the new coronavirus, rejecting claims of a much higher death toll by a lawmaker from the city of Qom, The Associated Press reports.

Iran's Health Ministry said the total number of infections have risen to 61 while deaths stood at 12. However, a lawmaker from Qom, Ahmad Amirabadi Farahani, was quoted by the semi-official ILNA news agency as saying that the death toll was 50.

Even with the lower toll of 12, the number of deaths compared to the number of confirmed infections from the virus is higher in Iran than in any other country, including China and South Korea, where the outbreak is far more widespread.

The World Health Organization said last week that in 2% of infected cases, the virus has been fatal. In Iran, according to the Health Ministry's figures, the death toll represents nearly 20% of total infections.

On Saturday, Iran ordered the closure of schools, universities and cultural centers after the novel coronavirus killed six people in the country.

The COVID-19 outbreak in Iran first surfaced last Wednesday, when authorities said it claimed the lives of two elderly people in Qom.

Authorities in Iraq and Afghanistan, which closed their borders with Iran, announced their first confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday, according to AP. Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman also announced their first cases. In all five countries, the infected patients had links with Iran.

The first case of the novel coronavirus was confirmed in Lebanon last week, after the virus was found in a 45-year-old Lebanese woman who had travelled to Lebanon from Qom.