World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday said a total of 97 cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) originated from Iran reaching 11 countries, raising the risk level of global spread and impact of the virus to the highest level.
New Zealand, Azerbaijan and Belarus on Friday reported their first coronavirus cases originating from Iran. A first case of presumptive coronavirus case originating from Iran was detected in Montreal on February 28. Since Wednesday Georgia and Ukraine have also reported coronavirus cases exported from Iran. According to the WHO Chief, 24 cases have spread from Italy to 14 countries as well.
Speaking to reporters at a press briefing in Geneva Ghebreyesus said the continued increase in the number of cases and the number of affected countries are clearly worrying.
"Our epidemiologists have been monitoring these developments continuously. We have now increased our assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of impact of COVID-19 to 'very high' at global level," he said.
The WHO Chief added: "We do not see evidence as yet that the virus is spreading freely in communities. As long as that is the case, we still have a chance of containing this virus."
Mike (Michael) Ryan, the Executive Director of WHO's Emergencies Program on Friday said that the WHO mission to Iran has been delayed due to issues with getting flights and access to Iran but the government of the United Arab Emirates was helping to facilitate access and delivery of supplies.
The WHO sent a fifth shipment of coronavirus test kits to Iran on Friday.
Iran's Health Ministry on Friday raised the coronavirus death toll to 34 but BBC's Persian Service says according to information it has received from sources in Iranian hospitals, at least 210 have lost their lives in various Iranian cities until Thursday.
Some Iranian lawmakers and officials have also questioned the reliability of the official figures and even accused the government of concealing the numbers.