Medical staff prepare to check passengers arriving from Iran in the airport in Najaf Image Credit: AP

Dubai - Iran said on Sunday an Iranian infected by the new coronavirus died in the country, head of the Medical Science University in the Mazandaran province was quoted as saying, bringing the number of deaths to eight in the Islamic Republic.

"An Iranian who traveled from Tehran to Tonekabon has died of the new coronavirus," Abbas Mousavi said, Iranian media reported.

Iran confirmed 15 new cases of the new coronavirus, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said on state TV on Sunday, adding that the death toll has reached eight in the country.

“So far, we have 43 infected cases and the death toll is eight,” said Kianush Jahanpur.

A group of doctors from various universities of Tehran has called on the government to shut down all schools, universities, theaters and cinemas, stadiums and other public places until after Nowrouz (New Year) holidays to contain the coronavirus outbreak and prevent the virus from spreading.

Nowrouz is celebrated on March 21 and public holidays last through March 24, with schools closed for thirteen days.

Kuwait halts Iran flights

Kuwaiti aviation authorities have announced suspending all flights to and from Iran over fears of the new coronavirus.

The Kuwaiti Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement that any traveller coming from Iran and having a previous residency permit or an entry visa will be barred from entering the Gulf country.

The agency urged Kuwaitis against travelling to Iran “until the new picture of the new coronavirus there becomes clear”.

WHO: 'very worrisome'

A surge in coronavirus cases and deaths in Iran is raising concern because the outbreak can't be traced directly back to China, the head of the World Health Organization said.

The cases, which suggest rapid spread in a country outside of the epidemic's center in China, are "very worrisome," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters Friday at a press briefing in Geneva.

The window of opportunity to stop the spread in countries outside the place where it began is "really narrowing," he said. "This outbreak could go in any direction."

In Iran, there have been 18 cases and four deaths in just the past two days, Tedros said.

One case was also reported Friday in Lebanon that was directly linked to Iran. Health experts are racing to limit new cases outside China, where severe quarantine measures are in place.