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Coronavirus cases in Qatar jump by 238 in one day

Health ministry says those affected were 'quarantined' after rapid spike in infections - which rose from an initial 24 cases
A general view shows the skyline of the Qatari capital Doha (AFP)

The number of reported cases of coronavirus in Qatar has jumped by 238 in one day, according to the country' health ministry, up from just 24 before.

The number of those infected in the small Gulf emirate now stands at 262, the ministry said on Wednesday.

Those infected "had been quarantined as a precaution" and were therefore not "in contact with the rest of the population," it said, according to Qatar's state news agency.

Qatar has not reported any fatalities but has closed universities and schools, cancelled many public events including the MotoGP and banned travellers from 14 countries entering the country.

Many of the initial cases diagnosed in Qatar were from a group of citizens and their foreign staff repatriated to the Gulf country from Iran.

Iran on Wednesday reported 63 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, the highest single-day toll in the three weeks since the Islamic Republic announced the first deaths from the outbreak.

The outbreak of the coronavirus in Iran is one of the deadliest outside China, where the disease originated.

Iran is yet to officially impose quarantines but authorities have repeatedly called on people to refrain from travelling.

On Monday, Qatar announced the closure of all schools and universities, one day after the government said it was temporarily banning entry of travellers from 14 countries.

Gulf Arab countries reported a surge in coronavirus cases over the weekend, with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) closing all schools starting Sunday to prevent the virus from spreading.

Saudi Arabia also shut down all schools and universities.