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Qatar confirms first coronavirus case amid regional outbreak

A number of Arab countries have imposed travel restrictions [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 February, 2020

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A Qatari citizen that was repatriated from Iran has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, authorities confirmed on Saturday.
Qatar has confirmed its first case of coronavirus, state media reported on Saturday, after a 36-year-old Qatari man who was evacuated to Doha from Iran tested positive.

Qatar on Thursday repatriated a number of its citizens from Iran - which is battling the worst outbreak outside China - and confined them to a 14-day period of quarantine, the government said.

The health ministry said the infected patient had been admitted to hospital. 

"This had been expected because of the virus's spread across the region and other countries, alongside the exponential increase in the number of cases," the health ministry said according to the Qatar News Agency.

Read also: Applying essential oil to anus 'cures coronavirus': Iranian cleric

Iran on Saturday reported nine new deaths from the novel coronavirus and 205 fresh cases in the past 24 hours, bringing its overall toll to 43 dead and 593 infected.

An Iranian lawmaker died of coronavirus on Saturday, a state-run news agency reported, amid a sharp rise in cases.

Mohammad Ali Ramazani Dastak died on Saturday morning after being admitted to hospital with "influenza and chemical injuries" sustained in the Iran-Iraq war, Iranian Students News Agency reported according to British media.

The recently-elected MP is believed to have tested positive for the deadly virus a few days earlier, The Independent reported.

One of Iran's seven vice presidents, Massoumeh Ebtekar, and Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi are among several senior officials who have been infected.

Citing unnamed sources in Iran's health system, the BBC's Persian-language service said on Friday that at least 210 people had died in the COVID-19 outbreak.

Most of the dead were in Qom or in the capital Tehran, the London-based broadcaster said.

Iran's coronavirus death toll is the highest for any country other than China - where COVID-19 first emerged.

Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour accused foreign media of spreading misinformation about the outbreak as he announced the new figures on Saturday.

Gulf countries have announced a raft of measures to cut links with Iran to prevent the coronavirus spreading, after infections emerged among people returning from pilgrimages or trips to the Islamic republic. 

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On Friday, Saudi Arabia barred citizens from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Qatar, from entering two of Islam's holiest cities amid fears over coronavirus.

The Gulf tally stands at 45 cases of coronavirus in Kuwait, 38 in Bahrain, six in Oman and two more in the United Arab Emirates for a total of 21.

On Saturday the UAE also announced it was suspending nursery school classes, and limiting activities at other schools.

Authorities said that two planes will also be sent to Iran to collect Emiratis and other Gulf citizens trapped there after air routes were closed.

Cyclists taking part in the UAE Tour are awaiting the results of coronavirus tests from their hotel lockdown, after the event was abandoned on Thursday when two staff from an Italian team tested positive.

The race organisers said in a tweet on Saturday that 167 of those quarantined had received negative results on coronavirus tests, but it did not say whether they were cyclists or staff members, nor how many others were awaiting results.

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