Lebanon's Health Ministry on Wednesday confirmed a second case of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in a woman who entered the country from Iran.
So far Canada, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain have reported at least 40 cases of coronavirus infection originating in Iran. The number of these reported cases is almost half the number of officially announced cases to date in Iran itself.
According to Lebanese authorities, the patient is a woman who had been visiting religious sites in Iran and returned to Lebanon on February 20.
Since February 19 when Iran announced its first two deaths from the virus, the death toll in Iran has risen to 19. Authorities say there are also 139 confirmed and 916 suspected cases. Iran's coronavirus death toll is so far the biggest among all countries after China.
According to a group of University of Toronto scientists and doctors based on coronavirus cases traveling from Iran to other countries it is statistically possible that 18,000 people are infected in the county.
“Given the low volumes of air travel to countries with identified cases of COVID-19 with origin in Iran (such as Canada), it is likely that Iran is currently experiencing a COVID-19 epidemic of significant size for such exportations to be occurring”, the research paper says.
In most cases there has been a connection with Qom, the city many Shiites from other countries visit as pilgrims. Qom, considered by many as Iran's religious capital has many seminaries for shiite theology.
Thousands of students of religion from other countries study at Al-Mustafa International University of Qom, a university-style seminary institute. These include hundreds of Chinese nationals as well as students from Lebanon, Syria and Afghanistan.
The worldwide death toll is now at more than 2,700, while the number of infections has topped 80,000, although the number of new cases in China, where the virus was first reported late last year, is falling.