Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Iran confirmed five deaths from the coronavirus Saturday, the highest death toll outside of China where the figure has reached 2,345.
Iran confirmed 28 cases of COVID-19 infection despite the country insisting as recently as Tuesday that it had no cases. By Wednesday, Iran said it had five cases in people with a history of travel to China and two deaths. By Friday, four deaths were confirmed in Iran from the outbreak.
Furthermore, a case in Lebanon appeared to be linked to Iran, along with a new case in Canada.
Iran was the first in the Middle East to declare deaths related to the virus.
Kianush Jahnpur, a health ministry spokesperson, wrote in a tweet that at least two cases were in Qom, 80 miles south of the capital of Tehran. Officials also confirmed coronavirus cases in Tehran and the northern city of Rasht.
Fars New Agency tweeted a video showing some people wearing masks while waiting in line to vote in Iran's weekend parliamentary elections.
A team of World Health Organization experts traveled Saturday to the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak started.
Ghebreyesus confirmed the trip during an address Saturday to African officials from Geneva where he spoke on the global spread and urged them to prepare.
The continent has only one case in Egypt of the coronavirus, but health officials warned that the outbreak could be deadly in countries where the health system is already strained.
WHO provided online training to 11,000 African health workers on the coronavirus.
"The cases that we see in the rest of the world, although numbers are small, but not linked to Wuhan or China, it's very worrisome," Ghebreyesus said Friday. "Those dots are actually very concerning."
Meanwhile, the number of infections in China rose above 76,000 Saturday with a dozen infections confirmed at a single nursing home in Wuhan. The nursing home, Wuhan Social Welfare Institute, said 11 residents and one employee had the virus, according to a notice from the municipal civil affairs bureau in Wuhan.
The notice said one of the residents died.
Elderly people are particularly vulnerable to the virus with many reported deaths occurring in people 60 and older. Nursing homes usually house residents in close quarters, which facilitates the rapid spread of the virus, The New York Times reported.
In the United States, the number of cases rose to 35.
President Donald Trump was upset that 14 U.S. citizens on the Diamond Princess Cruise who tested positive for the coronavirus would be returned to the United States this week, The Washington Post first reported.
In South Korea, 229 new cases were reported Saturday, bringing the total number of cases to 433, with more than half among a secretive religious sect, their family members or others linked to them.
Officials were trying to track down 700 members of the sect, the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, to be screened. More than 1,250 sect members have reported potential symptoms.
Between Daegu, South Korea's fourth largest city, and a nearby province where sect members do volunteer work, 352 people tested positive.
Banks, coffee shops, restaurants and convenience stores have all been shut down in the area.
The South Korean smartphone maker Samsung has shut down a factory after a worker tested positive for the virus.
Samsung said the factory was expected to resume operations Monday, but the floor where the patient worked will be closed until Tuesday morning.
Israel barred South Korean tourists hours after nine South Korean tourists tested positive for the coronavirus upon returning home.
In Italy, the number of sickened rose to 62 and the country has ordered mandatory quarantine measures in a dozen towns in northern Italy locked down after reports of two deaths tied to the outbreak in the region.
One person died in the Lombardy region and another in the Veneto region, ANSA news agency reported.
Local officials in both regions ordered the lockdown, which affected schools, businesses and a restaurant, along with sporting events.
Civil protections crews in Veneto set up a tent to screen medical staff outside a closed hospital where several people with confirmed illnesses were held in isolation.
In Codogno in the province of Lodi, the first patient in Italy was in critical condition Saturday and a few people out on the streets wore face masks.
In the city of Milan in Italy's northern Lombardy region, Mayor Giuseppe Sala said workers were suspended from work "where there is a cluster of infection." Fourteen employees were suspended, Sky Italia reported.
A map of global cases by Johns Hopkins showed 634 cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, the largest number outside China, followed by South Korea at 433 cases, Japan at 122, Singapore at 85, Hong Kong at 69, Italy at 62, and the United States and Thailand both at 35, and Iran at 28 cases.