Iran’s government spokesman tests positive for COVID-19

According to his office, Ali Rabiei has been hospitalized but is in good condition.

al-monitor Iranian Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi (L) wipes the sweat off his face during a press conference with the Islamic Republic's government spokesman Ali Rabiei in the capital Tehran on Feb. 24, 2020. Photo by MEHDI BOLOURIAN/FARS NEWS/AFP via Getty Images.

Jul 27, 2020

Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei has been hospitalized with the novel coronavirus, the semi-official Mehrs News Agency said Monday, making him the latest official to contract the deadly virus. 

His office said in a statement that Rabiei, who is also an adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, “has been hospitalized for further analysis” but that his “overall conditions are good.” His weekly press conference has been canceled. 

A number of senior officials and Iranian elites including a vice president, members of the cabinet and the parliament speaker contracted the coronavirus in the early days of Iran’s outbreak. In February, a visibly sick Deputy Health Minister Iraj Haririchi coughed and sweated his way through a press conference while downplaying the virus. He tested positive the next day. 

At least five members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and several prominent clerics have died from the virus. 

Iran’s case count has soared since easing restrictions in mid-April. Health Ministry spokesperson Sima Sadat Lari reported 212 more deaths Monday, bringing Iran’s death toll to 15,912. The country has reported more than 293,000 COVID-19 cases since its initial outbreak in the holy city of Qom in February. 

Experts believe the true number of cases is far higher but the Iranian government has denied accusations of a coverup in what is easily the Middle East’s deadliest outbreak. 

Earlier this month, a member of the national coronavirus committee said up to 18 million Iranians — around 20% of the entire population — are estimated to have been infected. The government has designated 12 of Iran's 31 provinces as "red,” the highest classification on its COVID-19 watch list. A further 13 are on "alert,” including Tehran province. 

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