JEDDAH: Iran was accused on Saturday of covering up the impact of the coronavirus amid fears that the infection could spread through the region because of the country’s poor health care standards.
Ten new cases were confirmed in Iran on Saturday, bringing the total to 29, and the death toll rose to six — the highest outside China.
Most of the cases have been in Qom, where schools and universities will be closed from Sunday.
The US State Department said the Iranian regime was playing down the danger and giving people “incorrect information.”
Online posts compared Iran’s coronavirus announcements with the attempted cover-up after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane last month, killing 176 people.
The World Health Organization said it was worried about the spread of the virus from Iran.
The two latest cases in the UAE on Saturday were an Iranian tourist and his wife, and Lebanon’s first confirmed case on Friday was a 45-year-old woman returning from Qom.
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“The concern is ... a very rapid increase in a matter of a few days,” said Sylvie Briand, director of the WHO’s global infectious hazard preparedness department.
“We are just wondering about the potential of more exported cases in the coming days.”
The coronavirus was first detected in December in Wuhan, in Hubei province in China. There have been nearly 78,000 confirmed cases and 2,362 deaths, almost all in China.