A worker in Tehran is shown on February 26 spraying disinfectant aboard a city bus. (Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Iran’s Official Death Toll from Coronavirus: 19

Iranian state television said on Wednesday that the death toll from coronavirus in the Islamic Republic had hit 19, with 139 confirmed cases. Iran has the highest number if deaths outside China, where the outbreak began, although an Iranian lawmaker has accused the government of a coverup, saying earlier this week that there were already 50 deaths just in the holy city of Qom. On Tuesday, Iran admitted that Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi had tested positive after he was seen on television coughing and repeatedly wiping his brow. The ministry has since warned citizens to avoid non-essential travel to hard-hit provinces. Several countries in the region have reported coronavirus cases either among Iranian nationals or citizens who had returned from Iran; some have since halted flights to and from the Islamic Republic. Neighboring Iraq has closed its borders to Iranians. Iranian officials are apparently anxious to avoid allowing the situation regarding coronavirus make the country seem weak, with President Hassan Rouhani saying it should “not be turned into a weapon for our enemies….”

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