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50 dead as coronavirus hits Iran's Qom

Iran was the first country in the Middle East to declare deaths related to the virus

Fifty people have died in the Iranian city of Qom from the new strain of the coronavirus so far this month, Iran's news agency ILNA reported today.

On Friday, Iranian officials reported 12 deaths from a total of 47 cases, according to state TV.

Lawmaker Ahmad Amiriabadi Farahani accused Iran's health minister of lying about the scale of the outbreak by saying the new death toll is significantly higher than the latest number of confirmed cases of infection, ILNA reported.

The Iranian government has denied trying to cover up the full extent of the coronavirus outbreak after reports suggested that the death toll from the disease was more than four times higher than official figures claim, Reuters reported.

Iran was the first country in the Middle East to declare deaths related to the virus. The head of public relations at the country's health ministry, Kianush Jahanpur, wrote in a tweet that most of the infections came from Qom. Officials also confirmed cases in Tehran, and in the northern city of Rasht.

State media in Iran reported that universities and institutions of higher education were closed for a week in ten provinces and schools were closed for three days in Tehran because of the virus. Educational institutions in Qom were also closed.

The closed session of the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) kicked off this morning with the attendance of Iranian Health Minister Saeid Namaki, ILNA reported. Namaki and the Iranian parliament will discuss the coronavirus outbreak.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases across the world is now 79,561, and 2,619 have died from the outbreak, according to the latest data released by World Health Organisation.

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