TEHRAN: Iran’s deputy health minister has tested positive for the novel coronavirus amid a major outbreak in the country which has resulted in the death of fifteen people.
Iraj Harirchi coughed occasionally and appeared to be sweating during a news conference in Tehran with government spokesman Ali Rabiei. In a video broadcast on state television, the deputy minister put on a brave face as he admitted he was infected.
“I too have been infected with coronavirus,” Harirchi said in the video apparently shot by himself. “I had a fever as of last night and my preliminary test was positive around midnight,” he said.
“I’ve isolated myself in a place since. A few minutes ago, I was told that my final test was final, and now I am starting medication.”
An Iranian parliamentarian representing Tehran has also tested positive. “My corona test is positive … I don’t have a lot of hope of continuing life in this world,” Mahmoud Sadeghi wrote on Twitter.
In the same message, he called on the head of Iran’s judiciary to release political prisoners to prevent them from getting infected and to allow them to spend the duration of the outbreak with their families.
Iran confirmed three more deaths and 34 new infections on Tuesday. They have reported 95 cases but the actual number is thought to be higher.
According to the health ministry, most of the deaths and infections outside Qom are among people who have recently visited the holy city.
The ministry’s spokesman said 16 of the new cases were confirmed in Qom, while nine were in Tehran, and two each in Alborz, Gilan and Mazandaran.
The virus appeared to be spreading to new parts of Iran, as one new case was also reported in each of the provinces of Fars and Khorasan Razavi.