Iraj Harirchi (left) at a press briefing with government spokesperson Ali Rabiei, in Tehran, on Monday.
The head of Iran’s anti-coronavirus task force has tested positive for the virus, Iran’s health ministry said Tuesday.
Iraj Harirchi, Iran’s deputy health minister, posted a video online saying he was self-isolating at home.
Just a day earlier, Harirchi had appeared at a news conference in Tehran saying authorities would bring the virus under control and denied reports from a local lawmaker in Qom, in northern Iran, that 50 people had died in the holy city that draws millions of pilgrims every year.
Harirchi appeared to be visibly showing signs of sickness at the press conference but was not wearing a protective mask.
At least one Iranian MP has tweeted to say he has tested positive for the virus.
On Tuesday, Iran confirmed 15 deaths nationwide from COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, and 95 cases in total.
But there are growing suspicions Iranian authorities are covering up the true extent of the outbreak in the country. The UAE, a global transport hub, has banned all flights to and from Iran, while neighboring countries are shutting their borders.
An Iraqi man blesses a worker, wearing a mask, with incense in the courtyard of the shrine of Imam Ali in the holy Iraqi city of Najaf, where the first case of coronavirus COVID-19 was documented in Iraq. Iraq often hosts pilgrims and religious students from Iran.
In a speech also on Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would “get through the virus,” which he called an “uninvited and inauspicious passenger.”
There are more than 80,000 cases of coronavirus globally, and 2,700 deaths, mostly in China, where the virus originated late last year.
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Matthew Champion is a deputy world news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Matthew Champion at [email protected]
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