As more members of Iran's political elite fall victim to the novel Coronavirus that has brought the country to the verge of serious crisis, the contagion appears to be closing in on the household of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Farideddin Haddad Adel, son of an influential politician, whose sister is Khamenei's daughter in law, tweeted Saturday morning February 29 that he has contracted the virus following a visit to Qom. However, he was harshly criticized for adding a laughing emoji to his post.
Many questioned the young Haddad Adel's integrity and accused him of using the situation for political gain. One twitter user reminded him that he contracted the virus while attending to one of his many businesses in Qom. Haddad Adels owns some of the most expensive private schools in Tehran and Qom.
Meanwhile, reports from Tehran say Mohammad Ali Ramezani who was recently elected as member of parliament from Astaneh Ashrafiyeh in northern Iran has died of Coronavirus on Saturday. The report said that Ramezani was predisposed with respiratory problems.
Mohammad Ali Vakili, MP for Tehran, and a member of the Iranian parliament (Majles) presidium said in a tweet that 4 other members of parliament have been tested positive for the virus.
There are unconfirmed reports about former Justice Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi having been taken to hospital for Coronavirus symptoms. Pourmohammadi was one of the five clerics implicated in the mass execution of Iranian political prisoners in 1988.
Vice-President Massoumeh Ebtekar, is also in hospital for similar symptoms. A picture widely circulated on social media show her on a hospital bed with a dozen officials including the Rouhani Administration's Spokesperson Ali Rabiei, and Tehran Governor General Anushirvan Bandepay around her without covering their faces with masks.
During the past week, Ayatollah Hadi Khosroshahi, Iran's former ambassador to Vatican, died as a result of Coronavirus. And two MPs Mahmoud Sadeqi (Sadeghi) and Mojtaba Zolnouri also announced that they have the virus. Many later doubted Sadeqi's plea as within hours of saying that he was dying with no hope of survival, he released a video saying he has recovered.
The most famous case of an Iranian official falling victim to the virus was about Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi who announced he was ill, one day after he insisted in a news conference and on live TV that Coronavirus wah not as dangerous as everyone thought.
On Saturday Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said the virus has killed 43 people amid 593 confirmed cases in Iran, adding that the government is considering the possibility of “tens of thousands” coming to test for the new coronavirus.
Iranian reporters have quoted officials including President Hassan Rouhani as having said that imposing a quarantine on Qom where the outbreak started is out of the question, however, several reporters said on Saturday that the government is considering controlling people's travel out of Qom. However, they criticized the measure announced an estimated three weeks after the outbreak started as being too little, too late.
In the meantime, while the busy shrine in Qom has been declared by Health Ministry Officials as one of the focal points of spreading the virus, some people in the city filmed themselves licking the ornaments touched by thousands of pilgrims every day. A local cleric has claimed that the silver ornaments kill all germs.
Outside hospitals and shrines, the virus is affecting all aspects of life in Iran including the economy. Hamshahri newspaper in Tehran reported on Saturday people tend to do more online shopping than going to the markets or shops.
The report also says that most public gatherings such as weddings have been cancelled and restaurant owners have been complaining about slow business as a result of the virus scare.
However, regardless of sad news that comes out of Iran about the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) not all is unwell, as some hardworking medical staff fight fatigue with happy moments like the one in this video: