Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani has tested positive for COVID-19, parliament's department of public relations announced in a statement on Thursday, April 2.
Responding to several members of parliament inquiring about Larijani's health, the statement has affirmed that following the detection of some symptoms, Mr. Larijani was tested positive, and immediately quarantined.
A former commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, Larijani, is the most senior Iranian official to contract the virus, so far.
Earlier, two dozen lawmakers, Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, Deputy president Ms. Massoumeh Ebtekar and several other officials, had been infected by the deadly novel coronavirus.
Furthermore, the top advisor of Iran's Supreme Leader, Dr. Ali Akbar Velayati also tested positive, Iranian news outlets reported on March 12.
Before being appointed as Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's top foreign policy advisor, Velayati had set a record by presiding over the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for sixteen years (1981-97).
A Johns Hopkins University graduate, Velayati was tested positive while managing a hospital in Tehran, where the victims of COVID-19 are treated.
However, no official report on the condition of those infected with the deadly virus has been published.
Najaf, Iraq-born, 61-year-old Larijani, presided over the Iranian parliament for twelve years but decided not to run in this year's elections.
Larijani, a former top political advisor to the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, is representing the city of Qom, where the first cases of coronavirus were detected in Iran, and soon spread to other parts of the country. Earlier, two other MPs from Qom had also tested positive.
Although renowned for being close to the extremist allies of the Supreme Leader, Larijani supported the so-called moderate clergy, Hassan Rouhani in his two successful presidential campaigns.
Based on the Islamic Republic Ministry of Health reports, Iran has more than 50,000 cases of the virus and 3,160 deaths, so far.
However, data exclusively collected by Radio Farda show that more than 70,000 have so far been hospitalized in Iran's 31 provinces for having COVID-19 symptoms.