Iran: 23 MPs infected with coronavirus

BREAKING: Iran’s deputy chairman of parliament announced that 23 MPs have been infected with the coronavirus, days after the Islamic Parliament was closed until further notice due to the virus outbreak among regime officials, including the vice president and deputy health minister.

In total, 77 people have died and 2,336 have been infected, Iran’s Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi said in an announcement on state TV.

According to sources inside Iran, the death toll is higher than the figures being reported by the health ministry.

Iran’s supreme leader Khamenei ordered the armed forces to assist health officials in combating the outbreak — the deadliest outside of China.

Khamenei’s decision was announced after state media broadcast images of the 80-year-old leader planting a tree wearing disposable gloves ahead of Iran’s upcoming arbor day, showing how concern about the virus now reaches up to the top of the country’s Shiite theocracy.

Last week, Iran’s Vice President for Women and Family Affairs, Masoumeh Ebtekar, tested positive for coronavirus.

Ebtekar, one of Iran’s most high-profile female politicians, was last seen at a cabinet meeting Wednesday with President Hassan Rouhani. During the meeting, Rouhani warned about COVID-19 turning into a “weapon at the hands of our enemies” for “propaganda” purposes.

In a highly publicized case, deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi was filmed sweating profusely and wiping his face with a handkerchief at a press conference meant to update officials on the spread of coronavirus.

One of the country’s top clerics, Hadi Khosroshahi, died on Thursday after he contracted the sickness.