Tehran: The coronavirus has infected more than 10,000 health care workers in hard-hit Iran, news outlets reported Thursday, as health officials in war-ravaged Yemen and Gaza expressed mounting concern about waves of new cases.
Iran's semi-official news agencies cited Deputy Health Minister Qassem Janbabaei, who did not elaborate. Reports earlier in the week put the number of infected health care workers at only 800. Iran says more than 100 of those workers have died.
Iran is grappling with the deadliest outbreak in the Middle East, with at least 7,249 fatalities among more than 129,000 confirmed cases. Those figures include an additional 66 deaths announced Thursday by Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
Another area of concern is the Gaza Strip, where the Health Ministry has reported 35 new cases in the last three days, bringing the total number to 55. All the new cases have been detected among returnees from abroad who are in mandatory quarantine in facilities at the border.
Yousef Abu El Rish, a senior Health Ministry official, said Thursday it is investigating whether the virus has spread beyond the quarantine facilities, where some 2,000 people are housed.
Gaza's health care system has been severely degraded by a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt after the Islamic militant group Hamas seized power there in 2007. The territory only has around 60 ventilators for a population of 2 million.
In Egypt, where those publicly questioning the official coronavirus toll have been expelled or thrown in prison, a government official acknowledged for the first time that the state's outbreak is likely much larger than reported.
Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, the minister of higher education, said at a conference Thursday _attended by the president and other top officials _ that disease models suggest the state's current count of 14,229 infections is an estimated "five times lower than" the projected numbers of 71,145, "or more.''
"This is a hypothetical model that we say can be a reality,'' he said, noting that across the world, officials cannot know precisely how many people are infected.
In a separate development, the International Monetary Fund approved nearly $400 million in emergency financial assistance to Jordan, which has largely succeeded in containing its outbreak by imposing wide-ranging quarantine measures.
Jordan, a close Western ally, has reported 672 cases, including nine fatalities.