Iran announces four new coronavirus deaths, total now 19: Officials on State TV

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Nineteen people have died and 139 people have been infected by coronavirus in Iran, Health Ministry Spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said on Wednesday in an announcement on state TV.

There were 44 new confirmed cases in the last 24 hours, according to the spokesman on Iran's official State TV, reported Reuters on Wednesday.

Officials also urged for Iranians to avoid any nonessential travel to limit the spread of the virus.

Others have put the number of infected higher than the Iranian government's official number, with one Iranian member of parliament saying that 50 people had died of coronavirus in the city of Qom alone.

“Up until last night, around 50 people died from coronavirus. The health minister is to blame,” MP for Qom Ahmad Amirabadi Farhani said on Monday.

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

Iran has had the highest number of deaths from coronavirus outside China, where the virus emerged in the city of Wuhan in late 2019.

Coronavirus cases in Iran could be as high as 1,500: Experts

One expert said that the number of cases in Iran could be as high as 1,500.

The estimate is based on Iran’s official death toll, which stood at 15 on Tuesday, and the global estimates, which place the death rate per symptomatic case in the range of 1 to 2 percent, according to Dr. Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard University.

“If we assume that the rate of death per case is in the same range in Iran that it is elsewhere, then that implies that there are between 750 to 1,500 symptomatic cases in Iran. But that would be making the assumption that the Iranian severity is similar to the severity elsewhere,” said Dr. Lipsitch in an interview with Al Arabiya English, adding that the estimate could be incorrect if the people infected had no access to medical care or if the virus spread in a group of people who were at risk of complications.

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US concerned Iran suppressing details on coronavirus outbreak

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday said the United States was “deeply concerned” Iran may have covered up details about the spread of coronavirus, and he called on all nations to “tell the truth.”

“The United States is deeply concerned by information indicating the Iranian regime may have suppressed vital details about the outbreak in that country,” Pompeo told reporters.

Secretary of State Pompeo also criticized Beijing for what he characterized as the censorship of media and medical professionals.

- With Reuters