Iran forced to shut schools, cultural centres as coronavirus death toll reaches five

08:48 AM | 23 Feb, 2020
Iran forced to shut schools, cultural centres as coronavirus death toll reaches five
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TEHRAN - Iran have closed schools, universities and cultural centres after a coronavirus outbreak that has killed five people in the Islamic republic, local media reported on Sunday.

The moves came as Iranian authorities reported one more death among 10 new cases of the virus.

Since it emerged in December, the new coronavirus has killed 2,345 people in China, the epicentre of the epidemic, and 17 elsewhere in the world.

The COVID-19 outbreak in Iran first surfaced on Wednesday, when authorities said it claimed the lives of two elderly people in Qom, a Shiite holy city south of the capital.

They were the first confirmed deaths from the virus in the Middle East. Iran reported two more deaths on Friday.

"We have 10 new confirmed cases of COVID-19," Iran´s health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told state television on Saturday.

"One of the new cases has unfortunately passed away," he added, noting that eight of them had been hospitalised in Qom and two in Tehran, without specifying where the death occurred.

The latest cases take to 28 the total number of confirmed infections in Iran.

As a "preventive measure", authorities ordered the closure of schools, universities and other educational centres in 14 provinces across the country from Sunday, state television reported.

They include Qom, Markazi, Gilan, Ardabil, Kermanshah, Qazvin, Zanjan, Mazandaran, Golestan, Hamedan, Alborz, Semnan, Kurdistan and the capital, Tehran.

The government also announced that "all art and cinema events in halls across the country have been cancelled until the end of the week" in order to stop infections.