Update (0940ET): FARS news agency reports that for former Iranian Ambassador to The Vatican has died from Covid-19.
Prominent Iranian cleric and diplomat, Hadi Khosroshahi passed away today, one day after he was admitted to a hospital in Tehran for testing positive #Coronavirus. Khosroshahi was Iran’s ambassador to the #Vatican and later Iran’s top diplomat in #Egypt between 2001 and 2004 pic.twitter.com/vbVnmLfOMs
— Ali Hashem علي هاشم (@alihashem_tv) February 27, 2020
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Nothing says 'we've got this under control' like confirming that a handful of your government's most-senior officials have caught the virus at the root of a deadly pandemic sweeping the globe.
After confirming on Thursday that its 'official' death toll from the outbreak had reached 22 with 141 cases confirmed (lawmakers have claimed that the death toll as of Monday was up to 50 in Qom alone), Iranian state media reported that the country's vice president for women and family affairs, Masoumeh Ebtekar has tested positive for the virus.
She is the third senior official to be infected, alongside the Deputy Health Minister and Cleric Hadi Khosroshahi, who succumbed to the pneumonia due to his advanced age.
In a recent tweet from Ebtekar's twitter account (because seemingly every senior Iranian official including the Ayatollah is on twitter), Ebtekar, an immunologist by training, criticized hysteria and panic being propagated by news reports.
As an immunologist, the important point I would like to make is that #COVID-19 outbreak is a health issue that requires experts evidence based observations. Fake, politicized news or posting can be life threatening...
WHO & Health Ministry protocols should be taken seriously. https://t.co/mzYLYgCft4
— Massoumeh Ebtekar (@ebtekarm) February 25, 2020
Iran cancelled Friday prayers in Tehran on Friday as the virus spread further in the capital city. With Iran's economy badly damaged by sanctions which have also contributed to shortages of essential supplies including medicine and medical products, it is uniquely vulnerable to the virus's devastation.
And the more the regime scrambles to try and contain it, the further it spreads, as Iran's neighbors close their borders to its citizens and turn away from the Middle East's worst virus '"hot spot".
And as more government officials fall ill, we can't help but wonder how much longer until the Ayatollah gets sick?