Tehran, Iranian health authorities have confirmed that two men have died after testing positive for the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19), making it the first fatalities in the country and the second outside Asia.
An informed source said on Wednesday that the two old men died in a hospital in Qom city after being tested positive for coronavirus earlier in the day, reports Press TV.
The source said one of the two had been suffering from chemical weapons injuries sustained during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. He described the other victim as a 65-old man, without elaborating.
The news of the deaths came hours after authorities confirmed first two cases for coronavirus in Iran.
In response, Deputy Health Minister Qassem Janbabaei visited Qom on Wednesday to supervise preparations to curb the spread of the disease.
Janbabaei said the two men were from two separate neighbourhoods of Qom, a city of close to one million people, adding that they had never been out of the province let alone to any foreign country.
“How they contracted coronavirus is not clear and the issue is being probed,” he told the state-run IRNA news agency.
The development came nearly a month after authorities evacuated 57 Iranian students from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, reports Press TV.
The students were released from a 14-day quarantine in Tehran on Tuesday.
Hong Kong (two), the Philippines (one), Japan (one) and France (one) have each reported deaths.
The overall death toll in China increased to 2,118 on Thursday, with a total of 74,576 confirmed cases.