Iran’s Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi has tested positive for coronavirus, Iranian state media has reported. Harirchi has been at the forefront of the country’s response to the outbreak.
A spokesperson for Iran’s health ministry confirmed in a television interview on Tuesday that Harirchi has been infected and is under quarantine.
ILNA reported Monday that officials from the city of Qom had said there had been 50 coronavirus deaths there. “We prefer not to censor what concerns the coronavirus because people’s lives are in danger,” the outlet said.
Harirchi rejected that report, however, saying he would resign if even half of that number had died.
Tehran confirmed its first two cases of the novel virus COVID-19 last Wednesday, with the health ministry saying that two patients had been put into isolation.
Schools have been closed across much of the country for the last two days and five of Iran’s seven neighbors have closed their borders with the Islamic Republic.
Clashes broke out between protesters and security forces at the weekend, over Tehran’s handling of the country’s outbreak, local media reported.