Senior VP and 2 in Cabinet Join Dozens in Iranian Government with Coronavirus

Iran's Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri walks off the air plane that flew him to Syria upon his arrival at Damascus airport on January 28, 2019. (Photo by LOUAI BESHARA / AFP) (Photo credit should read LOUAI BESHARA/AFP via Getty Images)
LOUAI BESHARA/AFP via Getty Images

Iran’s senior vice president and two cabinet members tested positive for the Chinese coronavirus on Wednesday, according to the state-run Fars News Agency.

The Fars News Agency report regarding Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri’s health comes after days of speculation because he has not been seen in photos of recent top-level meetings, according to the Associated Press (AP). It reportedly appeared in the Agency’s Farsi language coverage but has not yet done so in English at press time.

“Fars published it in a picture list of names in Farsi, with Jahangiri’s name at the top, saying he was in quarantine and improving, without elaborating,” the AP reported.

The cabinet members who also reportedly tested positive are Ali Asghar Mounesan, minister of cultural heritage, handcrafts, and tourism; and Reza Rahmani, minister of industry, mines, and business.

On February 27, Iran’s Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar was the first of President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet members to test positive for the virus, according to Breitbart News.

“Ebtekar attended a cabinet meeting on Wednesday at which Rouhani was also present. Evidently no one at the meeting was wearing a protective mask,” the report said.

The next day, the deputy speaker of Iran’s Parliament, Abdolreza Mesri, confirmed that 23 lawmakers had contracted the virus.

“These people have a close relationship with the people and they carry different viruses from different parts of the country, which may create a new virus, so we recommend the lawmakers to cut off their relationship with the public for now,” Mesri reportedly stated.

On Thursday, Iranian Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said the number of confirmed cases in the Islamic Republic had reached 10,075, and the death toll had risen to 429.

“This is a sharp rise compared to previous day’s figures of 9,000 infections and 354 deaths and the third highest infection and death toll in the world,” according to Radio Farda.

The report continued:

The death toll announced by the health Ministry is still less than half the sum total of cases counted by Radio Farda journalists based on statements by local officials in various parts of the country. At least another foreign-based media outlet has put the Coronavirus fatality in Iran above one thousand.

Jahanpur told reporters that hospitals in Iran are now capable of testing up to 6,000 people a day for the coronavirus but advised citizens not to go to the medical centers unless they need treatment.

On Thursday, an Iranian religious leader said it was permissible for Muslims to use an Israeli vaccine for coronavirus in the future if there were no other options.

“It is not permissible to buy and sell from Zionists and Israel,” said 93-year-old Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi.

“Unless the treatment is unique and there is no substitute, then this is not an obstacle,” he concluded.

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