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23 Iranian lawmakers and head of emergency medical services infected with coronavirus

A man held a baby while walking by the entrance of Zekai Tahir Burak Hospital where 17 passengers of a Turkish Airlines flight from Tehran, suspected of having coronavirus, were to be quarantined, in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. All 132 passengers of Tehran-Istanbul flight and crew on board will be quarantined for 14 days at the same hospital where Turkish citizens returning from China had been quarantined. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici/TNS)
March 03, 2020

There are now at least 23 Iranian officials infected with the coronavirus, including 23 Members of Parliament (MPs) and the nation’s head of emergency medical services.

The total number of infected in Iran has reached at least 2,330 on Tuesday while the death toll has reached 77, more than any other country outside of China, where it was first detected, Iran’s semi-official Ilna news agency reported on Tuesday.

Emergency medical chief Pirhossein Kolivand’s health is reportedly “good and there is no need for concern.”

The outbreak has sparked the country to mobilize 300,000 soldiers and volunteers to conduct door-to-door coronavirus checks and it has also deployed drones to disinfect the streets.

“Whatever helps public health and prevents the spread of the disease is good and what helps to spread it is sin,” Khamenei said when he announced the decision to mobilize the forces.

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Iran’s vice president for women and family affairs, Masoumeh Ebtekar, who was also a spokeswoman for the 1979 hostage-takers, is also infected. Some lawmakers have also been infected with the virus and on Tuesday, lawmaker Abdolreza Mesri urged all lawmakers to avoid the public.

“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 said.

A member of a council that advises Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is among the 77 who have died from the virus, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. Iran’s former ambassador to the Vatican, Hadi Khosroshahi, also died.

Although the total number reported of the infected is 2,330, some experts believe it could be more given Iranian officials downplayed the outbreak as recently as last week.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Iran to report the real numbers, saying at a press briefing, “All nations, including Iran, should tell the truth about the coronavirus and cooperate with international aid organizations.”

Pompeo accused Iran again of covering up the real numbers a House Foreign Affairs Committee on Friday

“Their health care infrastructure is not robust, and to date their willingness to share information about what’s really going on inside the Islamic Republic of Iran has not been robust,” Pompeo said.

However, Pompeo said he offered the United States’ assistance with the outbreak in Iran, but pushed back against the idea that sanctions were hurting the nation’s ability to deal with the outbreak.

“We have made offers to the Islamic Republic of Iran to help, and we’ve made it clear to others around the world and in the region that assistance, humanitarian assistance to push back against the coronavirus in Iran is something the United States of America fully supports,” he said. “There has been continuously an avenue for the movement of medical and humanitarian goods inside the Islamic Republic of Iran. They have not been sanctioned at any time, before the advent of coronavirus or concurrently.”