March 1, 2020
Iranian Lawmaker Dies Of Reported Coronavirus But Government Claims 'Flu,' Opposition Group Says 300 Have Died

With conflicting information coming out of Iran regarding the extent of a coronavirus outbreak in that country, reports on Saturday said that a newly elected member of the Iranian parliament, Mohammad Ali Ramazani Dastak, had died of the respiratory disease. The coronavirus has infected at least seven government officials and lawmakers in Iran, according to a report by The Independent newspaper.

But after Iranian media reported that Dastak had died of a coronavirus infection, the Iranian government issued a denial of those reports. Instead, officials claimed that the legislator -- who won his election only one week ago -- died from influenza as well as complications from "chemical injuries" that he incurred during the war between Iran and Iraq. (That war lasted from 1980 to 1988.)

On Saturday, a spokesperson for Iran's health ministry said that 43 people in the nation of approximately 84 million had died as a result of coronavirus, with nine of the fatalities coming within the last 24 hours, according to the Independent report. But an Iranian opposition group claimed that the total was far higher.

"More than 300 people have died of the coronavirus in Iran," opposition group People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran, also known as MEK, said on its Twitter account Friday.

The claim was similar to an earlier BBC report, cited by The Independent, in which sources within Iran's health care system said that 210 people had died of coronavirus.

A man in Italy wears a surgical mask.
Getty Images | Marco Di Lauro
The city of Milan, Italy, has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak.

Italy has also been one of the countries hit hardest by the coronavirus -- or COVID-19 -- outbreak, outside of China where the virus is believed to have originated. A reported 29 people have died there, including eight on Saturday alone, out of more than 1,100 cases diagnosed. These cases have been mostly in the northern Italian regions of Lombardy, Veneto, and Emilia-Romagna.

In South Korea, 17 people have reportedly died from coronavirus, out of more than 3,500 diagnosed infections, according to a CNN report.

And as of late Saturday and early Sunday morning, Germany had reported 66 confirmed coronavirus cases, while Norway had 15 cases, according to the CNN report. Sweden has also seen 12 positive coronavirus tests.

In Armenia, which borders Iran, a 29-year-old man who had recently traveled to the neighboring country became the first case of coronavirus. The man's wife tested negative for the virus, even though she reportedly traveled with him to Iran.

The United States saw its first death from coronavirus on Saturday, when a Washington state man succumbed to the disease. Cook County in Illinois also reported its third case on Saturday. As of Saturday, the total number of cases in the United States was reported at 70.