COVID-19 update — Iran reports two more deaths and 13 new cases

Posted Feb 21, 2020 by Karen Graham
World health officials said Friday the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in Iran, where health officials confirmed 18 new cases and four deaths in just two days, is “very worrisome.”
The WHO decided to name the virus COVID-19 in keeping with guidelines aimed to avoid linking a disea...
The WHO decided to name the virus COVID-19 in keeping with guidelines aimed to avoid linking a disease to an animal or a geographic location
The report on the additional deaths and confirmed cases comes as Iranians turned out to vote in nationwide parliamentary elections on Friday. Kianoush Jahanpour, a spokesman for the Health Ministry says the newly detected cases are all linked with the city of Qom where the first two elderly patients died on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.
A Chinese company has been building a solar power plant in Qom, and Minoo Mohraz, an Iranian health ministry official, said the virus “possibly came from Chinese workers who work in Qom and traveled to China.” She did not elaborate.
And in Lebanon, Health Minister Hamad Hassan on Friday reported the country's first case of the coronavirus. Speaking at a news conference in Beirut, he said the patient was a 45-year-old woman who arrived Thursday on a flight from Qom. He said the woman was in “good health."
The Health Ministry in Lebanon is also following up on two other cases of people suspected of having the illness. The woman and two other suspected victims were quarantined at the Rafik Hariri government hospital in Beirut.
According to CNBC News, the outbreak of the coronavirus in Iran has been linked to a case in Canada and another infection of a 45-year-old woman in Lebanon after those patients traveled to the Middle East nation.
“The cases that we see in the rest of the world, although the numbers are small, but not linked to Wuhan or China, it’s very worrisome,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said Friday at a news conference at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva. “These dots are actually very concerning.”
Tedros says world health officials still have a chance to contain the virus, but it’s getting less likely by the day. “The window of opportunity is still there, but our window of opportunity is narrowing,” he said. “We need to act quickly before it closes completely.” He also cautioned: “This outbreak could still go in any direction.”
The biggest threat from the virus is still its spread to countries with weaker health systems. As of now, there are no proven remedies for COVID-19, however, preliminary results from two clinical trials testing potential treatments for COVID-19 are expected in three weeks, Tedros said.
Ukraine protests over coronavirus evacuees
On Thursday, 45 Ukrainians and 27 foreign nationals were flown from Wuhan in China, the epicenter of the deadly outbreak, to Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine. The evacuees were loaded onto six buses and brought to a health spa in Novi Sanzhary, where they will be held in quarantine for 14 days.
The BBC is reporting that the buses were attacked by dozens of protesters - lighting bonfires and hurling stones. After a tense standoff, the road to the health spa was finally cleared and the evacuees were able to reach their destination.
According to a statement from Ukraine's security service (SBU), a fake email claiming to be from the health ministry falsely said some evacuees had contracted the virus. SBU officials are now investigating the apparent hoax.