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Iran reports 2 more deaths, 13 new cases of new coronavirus

Voters with face masks fill out their ballots in the parliamentary elections at a polling station in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. Iranians began voting for a new parliament Friday, with turnout seen as a key measure of support for Iran's leadership as sanctions weigh on the economy and isolate the country diplomatically. Also looming over the election is the threat of the new coronavirus, which has been confirmed in five people in Iran this week, including two elderly citizens who died in the city of Qom. Concerns over the spread of the virus, which originated in central China, prompted authorities in Iran to close all schools and Shiite seminaries in Qom. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Voters with face masks fill out their ballots in the parliamentary elections at a polling station in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. Iranians began voting for a new parliament Friday, with turnout seen as a key measure of support for Iran's leadership as sanctions weigh on the economy and isolate the country diplomatically. Also looming over the election is the threat of the new coronavirus, which has been confirmed in five people in Iran this week, including two elderly citizens who died in the city of Qom. Concerns over the spread of the virus, which originated in central China, prompted authorities in Iran to close all schools and Shiite seminaries in Qom. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

TEHRAN – Iranian health authorities Friday reported two more deaths from the new virus that emerged in China and said the fatalities were from among 13 new confirmed cases of the virus in Iran.

The report by the semiofficial Mehr news agency came as Iranians voted in nationwide parliamentary elections. After authorities reported two earlier deaths this week, the death toll from COVID-19, the illness caused by virus, stands at four in Iran.

So far, 18 cases have been confirmed in Iran, including the four who died.

The spokesman of the health ministry, Kianoush Jahanpour, said the newly detected cases are all linked with city of Qom where the first two elderly patients died on Wednesday.

Jahanpour said the new cases were either from Qom or had visited the city recently. He said four of them have been hospitalized in the capital, Tehran, and two in northern province of Gilan.

Minoo Mohraz, an Iranian health ministry official, said the virus “possibly came from Chinese workers who work in Qom and traveled to China.” She did not elaborate. A Chinese company has been building a solar power plant in Qom.

In Lebanon, Health Minister Hamad Hassan on Friday reported the Mediterranean country’s first case of the new virus.

At a news conference in Beirut, he said the patient was a 45-year-old woman who arrived Thursday on a flight from Qom. He said the woman was in “good health” and the ministry was also following up on the cases of two other people suspected of having the illness.