(TMU) — Iran now has the largest number of coronavirus related deaths outside of China but still has a relatively low number of confirmed cases when compared with other areas that have been hit hard by the virus.
Thus far, 26 deaths have been reported in the country but there are only 245 confirmed cases. It is likely that the virus is more widespread in Iran, but few people are being tested.
As politicians and health officials in the country have assured the public that the situation is under control, they are falling ill with the virus themselves.
In fact, Iran’s deputy health minister, Iraj Harirchi, tested positive for COVID-19 just hours after he appeared on television coughing, blowing his nose, and heavily sweating, insisting that the government had the outbreak under control.
Iran's health minister appeared at a press conference profusely sweating but insisting Iran had coronavirus under control.Just a day later, he tested positive for coronavirus himself Read more on our live blog here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/coronavirus-news-uk-italy-china-south-korea-pandemic/
Posted by The Telegraph on Tuesday, February 25, 2020
Less than a day after his diagnosis, state media reported that Masoumeh Ebtekar, Iranian Vice-President for women and family affairs, was also infected with the virus. Before she tested positive for the illness, Ebtekar was also criticizing media for reporting on the outbreak.
As an immunologist, the important point I would like to make is that #COVID-19 outbreak is a health issue that requires experts evidence based observations. Fake, politicized news or posting can be life threatening…
WHO & Health Ministry protocols should be taken seriously. https://t.co/mzYLYgCft4
— Massoumeh Ebtekar (@ebtekarm) February 25, 2020
Several other members of the government who were in close contact have also contracted the virus, including former Iranian Ambassador to The Vatican Hadi Khosroshahi who quickly passed away from the illness.
Prominent Iranian cleric and diplomat, Hadi Khosroshahi passed away today, one day after he was admitted to a hospital in Tehran for testing positive #Coronavirus. Khosroshahi was Iran’s ambassador to the #Vatican and later Iran’s top diplomat in #Egypt between 2001 and 2004 pic.twitter.com/vbVnmLfOMs
— Ali Hashem علي هاشم (@alihashem_tv) February 27, 2020
In total, seven high ranking officials in the Iranian government have tested positive for the virus.
Meanwhile, Iranian legislator Ahmad Amirabadi Farahani claimed in a news interview that the government is covering up the severity of the outbreak, and that there are over 50 people who have now died of the virus in the country. Elham Sheikhi, a professional athlete in her 20s and member of the women’s national soccer team, is among the country’s coronavirus casualties.
Iran canceled Friday prayers in Tehran and has advised citizens to avoid crowded areas or any unnecessary trips.
Officials in Italy, the area worst hit by the virus outside of China, have been getting sick as well. In Lombardy, the region at the epicenter of Italy’s outbreak, governor Attilio Fontana, has placed himself in quarantine after one of his staff members became infected. Just like officials in Iran, Fontana assured the public that everything was under control before getting sick himself.
"I am ready to protect everyone from Lombardy and anyone who comes into contact with me.”
Governor of Italy’s Lombardy region is in self-isolation after his aide caught coronavirus.
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) February 27, 2020
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