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19 Feb 2020 | 07:58 PM UTC

Iran: Educational institutions close in Qom following coronavirus fatalities February 20 /update 2

Authorities in Qom shut schools and universities on February 20 after health officials confirm two coronavirus-related fatalities

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IRN

Event

Officials at the Ministry of Health confirmed on the evening (local time) of Wednesday, February 19, that the two individuals they had announced earlier in the day to be infected with coronavirus (COVID-19) in Qom had died. They said their deaths were due to age and immune deficiency, and that neither patient had traveled outside of Qom province. Provincial authorities subsequently closed schools and universities on Thursday, February 20, in order to assess the situation.

On January 31, Iranian officials announced the suspension of all flights to and from mainland China to prevent further spread of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. However, further international spread of the COVID-19 virus is to be expected over the coming days and weeks.

Context

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 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.

Advice

Individuals in Qom province are advised to monitor the situation, anticipate further business disruptions, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities. 

To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide 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 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 avoid potential spread of the disease.