Iranian health authorities have confirmed the first cases of coronavirus in the country although they insist a final professional opinion would come after further tests.
An Iranian deputy health minister travelled to the central city of Qom on Wednesday after reports said that two old men had been tested positive for coronavirus.
Qassem Janbabaei said, however, that complementary tests on the two were underway and final results would come after careful deliberations.
He said a hospital in Qom had been dedicated to receive people suspected of having contracted the virus. The official added that a second hospital in the city was on high alert to respond to any emergency that might arise.
Janbabaei said the two men, now isolated, were living in two separate neighborhoods of Qom, a city of close to one million people, adding that they had never been out of the province let alone to any foreign country.
“How they contracted coronavirus is not clear and the issue is being investigated,” said the official in an interview with the IRNA news agency.
A health ministry spokesman also said that tests on the two men had been carried out by special teams dispatched from the capital Tehran to Qom after reports emerged of a growing number of influenza cases in the city.
Kianoush Jahanpour said that some other people suspected of having the disease had been identified to have the influenza type B.
The announcement of coronavirus cases come nearly a month after authorities evacuated dozens of Iranian students from the central Chinese city of Wuhan where the virus began reportedly in an illegal wildlife market.
The 57 students were released from a 14-day quarantine inside a hotel in southwest Tehran on Tuesday.
More than 2,000 people have died and nearly 100,000 people remain affected by coronavirus which is still centered in the Chinese province of Hubei.