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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - At least 210 people have died in Iran from the new coronavirus, BBC Persian reported Friday citing unnamed sources in the Islamic republic's health system, promoting an angry denial from a health ministry spokesman.
Most of the people died in the capital Tehran and the holy city of Qom in central Iran, where the country's first case was reported, the London-based global news network's Persian service said.
Iran's official death toll stood at 34 on Friday afternoon, with eight new deaths reported over the previous 24 hours.
Health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur accused BBC Persian of joining the Islamic republic's regional enemies in a "race to spread lies" about Iran.
"Iran's exemplary transparency in publishing information on the coronavirus has stunned many people," Mr Jahanpur tweeted.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States had offered to help with the coronavirus response in Iran, raising doubts about Tehran's willingness to share information.
Iran said the offer was ridiculous.
US President Donald Trump pulled out from a multilateral nuclear deal with Iran in 2018 and reimposed sanctions which have battered the Islamic Republic's economy.
"The claim to help Iran in dealing with coronavirus, from a country which with its economic terrorism has created widespread pressure for the people of Iran and even closed the paths for buying medicine and medical equipment, is a ridiculous claim and a political-psychological game," Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, said, according to the Mehr news agency.
Elsewhere, Lebanon announced on Friday it would bar entry to non-resident foreigners from the four countries most affected by the coronavirus outbreak, a day after announcing its third case.
The Middle Eastern country will deny entry to people arriving from China, South Korea, Iran and Italy, the state news agency reported, without saying when the measure would come into effect.
All airlines operating flights to Beirut have been notified of the ban, which does not affect Lebanese citizens or foreigners holding a residency permit, the agency added.
Education Minister Tarek Majzoub on Friday ordered the closure of all schools, universities and other educational institutions in the country until March 8.
Lebanon's health ministry on Thursday confirmed another coronavirus case. All three individuals infected - two Lebanese and an Iranian - arrived recently from Iran, the worst-hit country in the region.
Despite government efforts to reassure the Lebanese, videos have circulated on social media denouncing what users say are insufficient screenings for the virus at Beirut's international airport.
Updated: February 29, 2020 10:17 AM
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