YEREVAN -- Armenia has detected its first confirmed case of a coronavirus infection, that of a 29-year-old man who recently returned with his wife from Iran, the Caucasus nation’s leader says.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on March 1 in a Facebook posting that "Dear compatriots, about two hours ago we confirmed a case of coronavirus, unfortunately."
Health Minister Arsen Torosoan confirmed the news as well.
Pashinian said the man, an Armenian citizen, arrived by plane from Tehran on February 28 and later went to the hospital for treatment. He is in good condition, the prime minister said.
Pashinian said people the victim has had close contact with will be quarantined.
He added that all of the passengers on the flight with him from Tehran had been wearing face masks and were escorted from the airport under previously set precautions for people traveling from Iran.
Iran has become the hot spot for the disease in the Middle East. An Iranian Health Ministry spokesman on February 29 said nine people died from the COVID-19 virus over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of reported deaths to 43 amid 593 confirmed infections.
Many critics and outside experts have expressed concerns that Tehran is severely underreporting the magnitude of the crisis in the country, allegations the government has vehemently denied.
Iran has been linked to most of the more than 200 confirmed cases of the virus now spread across the region, and many countries in and outside the Caucasus, Middle East, and Central Asia have imposed restrictions on travel to and from Iran in an effort to curtail the disease's spread.
Worldwide, the COVID-19 outbreak, which began in China, has infected more than 86,000 people and killed some 3,000.
Most of the deaths and infections have occurred in China, but the epidemic has spread elsewhere, with Iran becoming the hardest hit outside of mainland China.