Coronavirus hits vice president, other officials in Iran

Coronavirus hits vice president, other officials in Iran
A vice president, a deputy health minister, a former envoy to the Vatican, the head of a medical university, and at least four parliament members are among the Iranian regime officials who have been infected with the coronavirus in recent days.

The increasing number of officials testing positive for the virus has raised questions about the management of the outbreak in Iran and whether officials are heeding safety measures to protect themselves amid the disease's outbreak in the country that according to the latest official figures has killed 34 people.

However, the BBC's Persian service said a count conducted by its unnamed sources in several hospitals suggests at least 210 people have died in the country as of the night of February 27. The Health Ministry vehemently denied the report.

"It doesn't inspire much confidence when officials who are supposed to protect us and who claim the situation is under control are falling ill," A Tehran-based observer who did not want to be named told RFE/RL.

Iranian Vice President for Women's Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar -- who served as spokeswoman for the Islamic student revolutionaries who seized the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979 -- was reported to have tested positive for the virus on February 27, a day after she was seen taking part in a cabinet meeting and sitting a few seats away from President Hassan Rohani.

It wasn't clear if those attending the meeting with Ebtekar, 59, and Rohani, 71, had been tested for the virus. Ebtekar -- whose symptoms are reportedly mild -- has been quarantined at home.

Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi confirmed he also contracted the coronavirus on February 25, a day after a press conference with government spokesman Ali Rabiei in which Harirchi was seen sweating profusely. Iranian media later reported that Rabiei had tested negative for the virus.

Some reports have also suggested that Morteza Rahmanzadeh, the mayor of District 13 in the Iranian capital, has been infected with the virus, which originated in China in December and was first reported in the holy Shi'ite city of Qom on February 19.

Iranian regime media on February 28 published images of what they said were members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps sanitizing and spraying down streets and sidewalks in Qom.

Based on RFE

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