On Wednesday, February 26, the Ministry of Health advised Iranians not to travel within the country and that those infected or suspected of being infected with coronavirus (COVID-19) would be restricted from traveling. The Ministry also announced that teams have been placed at the entrances of multiple cities in order to effect temperature screenings. Those found to have symptoms of COVID-19 will be put in quarantine for 14 days. It is unclear as to where exactly these officials are located in the concerned cities.
Entry restrictions have also been implemented at several holy sites, including the Shrine of Fatima Massoumeh in Qom and the Imam Reza Holy Shrine in Mashhad. Pilgrims will be allowed to enter on condition that they are provided with, "disinfectant liquid for the hands, adequate information [on the disease], masks, and that [pilgrims] move [quickly], don't come together, but just pray and go."
As of Thursday, February 27, there are 139 confirmed cases, including 19 deaths and 49 recovered patients.
Further international spread of the virus is expected in the coming days and weeks.
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 more than 30 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.
To reduce the 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 experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider
- Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and your home government.
In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, travelers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.