Iran has accused the US of spreading “propaganda” about the coronavirus.

President Hassan Rouhani said the disease, which has killed 19 and infected scores more according to official figures, should not become an “enemy weapon” that disrupts businesses.

“Corona should not become the weapon of our enemies. Americans and enemies have, for two years, with their boycott and propaganda, sought to economic despair in this country and make people suffer,” Mr Rouhani said.

His official website quoted him as responding to Mike Pompeo‘s claim that Tehran was concealing details of the Covid-19 outbreak in Iran during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

The site quoted him as having said: “Lately a high-ranking American official spoke about Iran’s coronavirus situation. They are caught up with corona themselves, they have lost 16,000 lives to influenza in America, but they do not speak of themselves.”

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Government figures put the coronavirus death toll at 19 and more than 130 total infections. Iran’s deputy health minister Iraj Harichi, who was heading the nation’s coronavirus response, is among the sick.

However, some lawmakers in the country have suggested that coronavirus may have killed as many at 50 people, prompting concerns about the government’s transparency over the outbreak.

In the US meanwhile, more than 50 people have been diagnosed with the illness. San Francisco has declared a state of emergency in order to prepare for what officials fear may become a pandemic.

America’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention now believe unchecked community transmission of the virus is a question of “when, not if”.

Donald Trump has asked congress for $2.5bn (£1.9bn) in order to combat the disease’s spread.

On Wednesday Brazil confirmed that it had discovered its first coronavirus case, meaning the outbreak has now hit all of Earth’s inhabited continents.

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The Indepenent