Iran’s state daily IRAN newspaper reported Wednesday that a woman died on Monday in a Tehran hospital of a suspected coronavirus infection, but the account was quickly refuted by a spokesperson for the health ministry.
According to the news report, cited by Reuters, a forensic investigation into the cause of the 63-year-old’s death has been ordered.
However, a spokesman for Iran’s Health Ministry, Kianush Jahanpour, appeared to pour cold water on concerns the woman could have died as a result of the deadly infection, saying “there have been no cases of coronavirus in Iran.”
Prior to the news of the woman’s death, the Iranian Tasnim news agency quoted Health Minister Saeed Namaki as saying that all the Iranian students in Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak in China, had been repatriated and had tested negative for the virus.
Namaki also said there had not been a single case of infection in Iran, adding that this had been acknowledged by the World Health Organization (WHO) representative in the country.
The viral outbreak that began in China has now infected more than 45,100 people worldwide, killing over 1,000 people.
Despite the reassurances, there has been criticism of the Iranian regime for going ahead with Tuesday’s mass rallies to mark the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.
Hundreds of thousands of Iranian marched across the country to mark the 1979 revolution that ended the regime of shah Reza Pahlavi and brought Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni and the Islamic regime to power.
Other countries have banned mass gatherings and some Iranians took to social media to criticize the decision to have the rallies take place.
People around the world do not come out of the house for fear of #coronavirus.
But in Iran…
The fortieth anniversary celebrates the Islamic Revolution and the rally of millions of people for the love of the leader and the system. Iran means authority and greatness.#فجر_سلیمانی pic.twitter.com/sjl0LIvQUF
— Masuva (@Masuva2) February 12, 2020
Earlier this month, there were reports on Twitter that there had already been cases of the virus in Iran, but that the regime had told hospital staff to withhold information until after the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.