(Adds death of the two)
DUBAI, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Two Iranians have died in hospital after testing positive for the new coronavirus in the holy Shi'ite city of Qom, the head of the city's University of Medical Sciences told Mehr news agency on Wednesday.
"Two Iranians, who tested positive earlier today for new coronavirus, died of respiratory illness," the official told Mehr.
Iran's health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur confirmed their death on Twitter.
Iran confirmed earlier on Wednesday its first two cases of the virus, government spokesman Ali Rabiei said, shortly after reports that preliminary tests on the two had come back positive.
The health ministry said earlier that the patients had been put in isolation.
Rabiei did not give the nationality of the two people infected, but some reports suggested that they were Iranian nationals.
The death toll from the new coronavirus in mainland China passed 2,000 on Wednesday although the number of new cases fell for a second straight day, as authorities tightened already severe containment measures in the worst-hit city of Wuhan. (Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh and Parisa Hafezi; Editing by John Stonestreet and Hugh Lawson)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.