Iran's deputy health minister: I have coronavirus

Feverish Iraj Harirchi says disease ‘doesn’t distinguish between statesman and ordinary citizen’

Martin Chulov
Tue 25 Feb 2020

Iranian deputy health minister reveals he has coronavirus – video
Iran’s deputy health minister said he has contracted the coronavirus and placed himself in isolation, a day after appearing feverish at a press conference in which he downplayed its spread in the shrine city of Qom and said mass quarantines were unnecessary.
Iraj Harirchi posted a video on social media on Tuesday acknowledging he had caught the virus, which appears to be taking rapid hold in parts of Iran. The news has underscored widespread fears that the outbreak may have passed a tipping point, before authorities had been able to gauge its full extent.
Images of one of the country’s most senior public health officials appearing sweaty and pale and acknowledging he had contracted the disease left many Iranians deeply troubled and are likely to further paralyse a county reeling from its rapid onset. In the short video, Hirachi acknowledged that “many may get infected” echoing concerns that have taken root in the rest of the Middle East, which is home to millions of people living in densely packed refugee camps.

Iran now has the highest coronavirus death toll outside of China, threatening the wider Middle East

Published Tue, Feb 25 2020
Natasha Turak@NatashaTurak

Key Points

  • Iran’s health ministry on Tuesday confirmed 15 deaths from the new coronavirus amid 95 cases in Iran, the most fatalities of any country outside of China.
  • Cases of the virus have now exceeded 80,000 worldwide, with about 2,700 deaths, the vast majority in China.
  • Amid accusations from within Iran of a government cover-up, it’s widely suspected that the number of cases and deaths are higher than officially reported.