Azerbaijan reports first coronavirus death

BAKU (Reuters) - An Azeri woman who was quarantined after returning from Iran has died from coronavirus, Azerbaijan's first death from the outbreak, the country's emergency crisis center said on Thursday.

The woman, who was born in 1969, was found to have a serious autoimmune disease and was also suffering the last stage of chronic renal and respiratory failure, the center said in a statement. Members of her family have been placed in quarantine.

The former Soviet country of around 10 million has recorded 11 cases of coronavirus. All patients had traveled to Iran.

Azerbaijan on Thursday extended the closure of its border with Iran for two more weeks. Schools, universities and kindergartens have been closed since the beginning of March.

Neighboring Georgia on Thursday reported its 25th case of coronavirus, according to the inter-agency coordination council, the highest number in the South Caucasus region. Twenty-two infected Georgian citizens arrived in the country after traveling to Italy, two came from Azerbaijan after traveling to Iran and one from Spain.

Georgia decided on Thursday to extend the spring holidays for schools, universities and kindergartens across the ex-Soviet country until April 1, while mandatory military recruitment scheduled for spring was postponed until April 13, the council said in a statement.

Some state employees were temporarily working remotely.

The South Caucasus country of 3.7 million suspended all large gatherings, such as education, sports and other events, while nightclubs have been closed for one month.

In addition to the suspension of direct flights to and from China, Iran and Italy, Georgia imposed restrictions on both Georgian and foreign travelers arriving from South Korea, Germany, France, Spain and Austria.

Neighboring Armenia, which recorded four cases of coronavirus, said on Thursday it would gradually replace used banknotes with new ones to try to prevent the spread of coronavirus and advised people to avoid making cash payments where possible.

(Reporting by Nailia Bagirova in BAKU and Margarita Antidze in TBILISI; writing by Tom Balmforth and Margarita Antidze; Editing by Kevin Liffey)