An Iranian official from Qom Province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Iran, has said that 50 people have died due to the new virus. Meanwhile, the country's health ministry has denied the figures, saying that the virus has claimed the lives of 12 Iranians so far.
“Ten people die daily in Qom. As of last night [February 23], about 50 people have died due to the coronavirus infection. The health minister is to blame in this case,” Ahmad Amirabadi-Farahani, a member of parliament representing Qom Province, said at a session of the parliament on February 24, the Iranian ILNA news agency reported.
He called on to quarantine Qom, saying that the outbreak in the province started three weeks ago and people had died as early as February 13 but officials did not reveal it. According to him, 250 patients have been quarantined in Qom and 32 of the deaths have occurred in quarantine.
Qom, which is the country's eighth-largest city and a pilgrimage destination, is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
Meanwhile, Spokesperson for Parliament Presiding Board, Asadollah Abbasi said that coronavirus has claimed the lives of 12 people in the country as of today. He said that many reports are related to the hospitalization of patients at hospitals with influenza, adding that “of total patients with influenza, about 64 have been diagnosed with coronavirus”.
The country's deputy health minister, Ahmad Harirchi, has also denied the death of 50 people, insisting that lawmakers have no access to coronavirus statistics and could be mixing figures on deaths related to other diseases like the flu with the new virus.
"No one is qualified to discuss this sort of news at all," he said.
The virus, which causes the illness recently named COVID-19, has infected more than 79,000 people globally, and caused more than 2,600 deaths, most of them in China.
Some neighboring countries closed their borders with Iran, while flights to Turkey, Georgia, Iraq and Kuwait have been canceled. However, according to the flight tracking website flightradar24, Iran's Mahan Airline has continued its flights between Tehran and Beijing. Mahan Airline has been strongly criticized in the past two weeks for continuing its flights to and from China after the outbreak in China was reported.
The press-service of Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL), the flag carrier of Azerbaijan, reported on February 24 that Buta Airways currently does not plan to make changes to the current flight schedule to Iran.
"In particular, low-cost airline Buta Airways that operates daily flights on the Baku-Tehran-Baku route, plans to continue the flights in accordance with the current schedule. Also, I would like to inform that Heydar Aliyev International Airport and other airports of Azerbaijan will not impose any restrictions on flights operated by Iran Air", AZAL President Jahangir Asgarov said.
In addition, the relevant structures of the Heydar Aliyev International Airport together with the State Customs Committee and the Ministry of Healthcare of Azerbaijan have strengthened the sanitary-quarantine control on flights arriving from Iran, additional measures will be taken in this direction, the statement added.