27 travelers from Iran test positive for coronavirus in 6 Arab countries

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Twenty-seven people have tested positive for coronavirus in six countries across the Arab region after returning from Iran.

Iran has reported 15 deaths from coronavirus, the highest number outside China, but that number is disputed.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Iran has risen to 95, the health ministry’s spokesman Kianush Jahanpour said on Tuesday, the official IRNA news agency reported.

A member of parliament from Qom said 50 were dead in the city alone, and blamed the health ministry in the Islamic Republic for allowing the outbreak to spread. Iran’s Health Ministry rejected the number on Monday.

Iran reported its first case last week, but it is expected that the virus has been present for weeks. The official count of cases stands at 61, but an expert told Al Arabiya English the actual count is likely much higher.

In Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Lebanon, Iraq, and the UAE coronavirus cases have been reported in travelers returning from Iran.

The Iraqi Health Ministry reported its second case on Tuesday, an Iranian student in Iraq. Shortly after, a family of four in Kirkuk who had returned from Iran were diagnosed.

On Tuesday, Iraq indefinitely extended an entry ban on travelers from China and Iran and instituted similar bans on travelers from Thailand, South Korean, Japan, Italy and Singapore, the health ministry said on Tuesday

So far, 11 countries in geographic proximity to Iran have shut their land and air borders with the Islamic Republic as the virus continues to spread.

Five of Iran’s seven neighbors, Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Armenia, have closed their borders to the Islamic Republic.

The UAE, which has reported two cases of coronavirus linked to Iran, has issued a travel ban to Iran.

The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority on Tuesday issued a ban on all flights to and from Iran for a week. Previously, flights to Tehran were allowed from Dubai International Airport, the world's busiest for international travel.

Oman has suspended all civil aviation with Iran after reporting two cases in women who had returned from Iran. On Tuesday, Oman's Khasab port announced it will suspend the import and export of all Iranian goods from Wednesday, February 26.

Kuwait, now with eight cases reported, halted flights to and from Iran on Saturday and banned the entry of ships coming from Iran on Sunday. Kuwait has suspended all flights to and from Iraq, as of Tuesday.

In Bahrain, the second case was confirmed in a woman who came from Iran via Dubai. Now, there are eight confirmed cases in Bahrain, all in people who came from Iran.

Bahrain civil aviation suspended all flights from Dubai airport and Sharjah airport for 48 hours over coronavirus fears, according to BNA, the official news agency.

In Lebanon, only one case of coronavirus has been confirmed in a woman returning from Iran, but she denied having the virus. Lebanon will hold an emergency parliamentary session to discuss coronavirus on Tuesday.

Read more: How deadly is the coronavirus and is there a cure: 10 questions answered

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