As of Sunday, February 23, Iran has confirmed 43 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases and eight associated deaths after reporting its first two cases of the disease on Wednesday, February 19. Most cases reported in the country have been recorded in Qom. Countries in the Middle East, Caucasus, and South Asia have imposed travel restrictions on Iran amid concerns over the spread of COVID-19, including Afghanistan, Armenia, Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.
Associated transportation disruptions are to be expected between the abovementioned countries and Iran over the coming days and weeks. Further international spread of COVID-19 is to be expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in 31 countries and territories worldwide. Virus screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a "very grave threat."
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Individuals in Iran are advised to monitor the situation, prepare for transportation disruptions if planning travel to or from the abovementioned countries, and take appropriate health precautions. To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands
- If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider
- Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments
In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, individuals are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the spread of the disease.