Iran’s supreme leader warned the Islamic Republic of the new coronavirus on Tuesday by ordering its military to help health officials fight the epidemic, which authorities said killed 77 people, the highest death toll outside of China.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s decision was announced after state media released images of the 80-year-old leader planting a tree with disposable gloves before the next arbor day in Iran, showing how the concern has arisen. by the virus now reaches the top of the country’s Shia theocracy.
The Iranian media reported that 23 members of parliament were now infected with the virus, as was the country’s chief of emergency services.
“Anything that helps public health and prevents the spread of the disease is good and what helps spread it is sin,” said Khamenei.
After downplaying the coronavirus as recently as last week, Iranian authorities said on Tuesday that they intended to potentially mobilize 300,000 soldiers and volunteers to deal with the virus. It was unclear whether Khamenei’s order would set them in motion by helping to clean up the streets, direct traffic, and track possible contacts of people with the virus with others, as initially suggested.
There are now more than 2,530 cases of new coronavirus in the Middle East. Of those outside Iran in the region, most are linked to the Islamic Republic.
Yet experts fear that the percentage of deaths from infections in Iran, currently around 3.3%, is much higher than in other countries, suggesting that the number of infections in Iran could be much higher than current figures show.
Affected upper brass
Iran is the only one to have affected the virus on its government, even compared to China hard hit, the epicenter of the epidemic.
The death of Opportunity Council member Mohammad Mirmohammadi on Monday made him the highest-ranking Iranian executive to be killed by the virus. State media called him Khamenei’s confidant.
The virus killed Hadi Khosroshahi, a former Iranian ambassador to the Vatican, as well as a recently elected MP earlier.
Among the sick are Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar, better known as “Sister Mary”, the English-speaking spokesperson for the students who seized the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and sparked the 444-day hostage crisis, state media reported.
Iraj Harirchi, the head of an Iranian government task force on the coronavirus, was also sick and tried to minimize the virus before he got sick.
Lawmaker Abdolreza Mesri told the Iranian Young Journalists Club program on Tuesday that 23 parliamentarians had the coronavirus. He urged all lawmakers to avoid the public.
“These people have a close relationship with people and they are carriers of different viruses from different parts of the country, which can create a new virus, so we recommend that legislators sever their relationships with the public for now”, said Mesri.
The semi-official news agencies ILNA and Tasnim in Iran also reported that Pirhossein Koulivand, the country’s chief of emergency services, had died with the new illness. They gave no other immediate details.