One of Iran’s top officials, First Vice President and close associate to President Hassan Rouhani, 63-year-old Eshaq Jahangiri, contracted the novel coronavirus, semi-official Fars news agency reported on Wednesday.
Based on an “informed source,” Reuters reported that Jahangiri is currently undergoing treatment. It is the 24th confirmed case of coronavirus contamination within the close circle of Iranian public officials.
Jahangiri, who is one of 12 vice presidents to Rouhani, is the most senior one who oversees the others and personally reports to the president.
It is unclear how close the two were in recent weeks, but the announcement casts a shadow on 71-year-old Rouhani’s health.
According to Iran’s state media, some 9,000 have been infected across the country with 354 dead. However, The National Council of Resistance of Iran, a dissident group, contends that the number of losses is far greater than that, The Washington Examiner reported.
Irani officials, however, suppress all speculation about the real size of the outbreak.
“Only the health ministry … is in charge of announcing figures … violators will be charged with acting against national security,” prosecutor-general Mohammad Jafar Montazeri in a statement, on state TV, Middle East Eye reported.
However, Kianush Jahanpur, a health ministry spokesman, admitted on state television on Wednesday: “We have identified 958 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in the last 24 hours, increasing the total number of cases to 9,000 across Iran,” he said. “Also 63 people have lost their lives in the past 24 hours,” Jahanpur added.
Adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei Dies of Coronavirus
A close adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei died on March 2 in Tehran after succumbing to the COVID-19 coronavirus, according to state-run media.
Mohammad Mirmohammadi, 71, was a member of Khamenei’s Expediency Council, reported The Associated Press, citing state-run radio.
Several other top Iranian officials have been infected with the virus, including Masoumeh Ebtekar, a vice president for Women and Family Affairs and a spokeswoman during the 1979 revolution, as well as Iraj Harirchi, the head of the regime’s task force to combat COVID-19.
Iran’s neighbors and other Middle Eastern countries have closed their borders and suspended air travel after coronavirus patients were traced back to the country.
Iran’s parliament has been suspended indefinitely, universities and schools have been closed, and public gatherings have been canceled, according to state-run media outlets.
Epoch Times reporter Jack Phillips contributed to this report