A member of a council that advises Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei died on Monday after falling ill due to the COVID-19 outbreak, AP reported. Expediency Council member Mohammad Mirmohammadi died at a north Tehran hospital, the state radio said. He was 71.
Iran has the highest number of deaths from the coronavirus outside of China, where the outbreak originated. Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi announced on Monday that 66 people have died and 1,501 people have been infected in the country.
The country now appears to have the highest number of government officials infected by the virus, which was first officially reported in the Iranian city of Qom on February 19. Last week, Iran’s Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi had tested positive for coronavirus.
The other Iranian officials infected include Masoumeh Ebtekar, the vice president for women and family affairs; Mojtaba Zolnour, a member of Parliament from Qom and head of Parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee; Mohamad Reza Ghadir, head of coronavirus management in Qom and director of the city’s state medical university, and Hadi Khosroshahi, a prominent cleric and former ambassador to the Vatican.
President Hassan Rouhani has repeatedly dismissed concerns raised by many Iranians over the handling of the outbreak, saying all the necessary measures to overcome the crisis have been taken.
Meanwhile, the European Union on Monday raised the coronavirus risk level to “high’’ from “moderate”, AFP reported.