Mahmoud Sadeqi an outspoken reformist member of the Iranian parliament (Majles) has tested positive for Coronavirus, while there is deep concern about the true extent of a possible pandemic in Iran.
Meanwhile, Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi who has been actively playing down the significance of the contagion for public health in recent days, has also posted a video on social media announcing that he is also ill with the virus.
Several other Iranian officials including a county mayor in Tehran and the head of the Tehran City Council were also tested for the virus, and some of the test results have been positive.
In the meantime, media outside Iran put the number of deaths as a result of Coronavirus at 68 while officials in Iran insist the casualty toll is 15 adding that 95 other patients have been officially tested positive for the virus. .
Announcing the result of his test, Sadeqi (Sadeghi) wrote in a post on Twitter on Tuesday February 25, "I have very little hope to survive." He is a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war and his lungs were reportedly damaged by Iraqi chemical weapons. People with weak lungs are more vulnerable if they contract the virus.
Meanwhile, Sadeqi asked Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raeesi to grant furlough to political and security prisoners to prevent the spread of Coronavirus in prisons.
Sadeqi made the request amid public concern about the safety of prisoners in Iranian jails during recent days.
Nevertheless, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that "the enemies" are planning to shut down Iran by creating fears about the virus.
Speaking at the National Headquarters for Disease Control, Rouhani said: "This is a conspiracy by the enemies." But he added that the headquarters may decide to close universities and public places to prevent the spread of the virus.
Kianoush Jahanpour, a deputy health minister responded to the concerns, saying "We have not had any particular report that would raise concerns about the contagion in prisons." However, he admitted that such a development is not absolutely unlikely.
Some have taken this remark by a deputy health minister as confirmation that in fact there is such a concern.
Another deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi who is also the deputy chief of Iran's Coronavirus Headquarters released a video on social media announcing his illness as a result of the virus.
Harirchi was last seen in a news conference with the Rouhani administration's spokesman Ali Rabie on Monday. He was sweating during the news conference.
He has said in the video that he was running a fever on Monday, and that he was tested positive for Coronavirus later Monday night.The video has been widely circulated on social media.
Later Monday night, Harirchi took part in a live interview on the state TV, and there are concerns he might have passed virus to others at the TV station. During the broadcast he wiped his nose with his hands and coughed repeatedly without covering his mouth.
He was also seen wiping his nose with his hand during the news conference with Rabiei.
Harirchi says he has been quarantined now as his second test for Coronavirus was also positive. Meanwhile, he added that generally he was "feeling well," adding that his medical treatment will start soon.
He assured Iranians that Coronavirus will be "defeated" within a few weeks. He said Corona is a "democrat" virus that affects both the poor and the rich. He further claimed that there is a definite cure for those with the virus.
The deputy health minister said he is planning to run his office remotely via his cell phone. However, he hoped that he would be back to his office soon.
Iranian officials denied reports about the spread of Coronavirus in Iran until February 19, two days before parliamentary elections, as two patients died in Qom.
In the meantime, Coronavirus has spread from Iran into several neighboring countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey and Kuwait while Lebanon and Canada are among the countries that have also quarantined incoming passengers from Iran with initial positive test results.