February 28, 2020 / 5:59 PM / a month ago

Iran rejects BBC Persian report of at least 210 coronavirus deaths

FILE PHOTO: Iranian women wear protective masks to prevent contracting coronavirus, as they walk in the street in Tehran, Iran February 25, 2020. WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Nazanin Tabatabaee via REUTERS

DUBAI (Reuters) - The fast-spreading coronavirus has killed at least 210 people across Iran, the BBC’s Persian service reported on Friday, citing hospital sources, far more than reported by the Health Ministry which put the number at 34.

Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur rejected the BBC report in a tweet. Even at 34, Iran has had the highest death rate from the outbreak outside China.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States had offered to help with the coronavirus response in Iran, raising doubts about Tehran’s willingness to share information.

Iran said the offer was ridiculous.

U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out from a multilateral nuclear deal with Iran in 2018 and reimposed sanctions which have battered the Islamic Republic’s economy.

“The claim to help Iran in dealing with coronavirus, from a country which with its economic terrorism has created widespread pressure for the people of Iran and even closed the paths for buying medicine and medical equipment, is a ridiculous claim and a political-psychological game,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, said, according to the Mehr news agency.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, told a news conference in Geneva on Friday that WHO is sending a team to Iran, due to arrive on Sunday at the earliest or on Monday.

Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh; additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by Nick Macfie

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