Iran’s deputy health minister and a member of parliament have both tested positive for Covid-19 as the country struggles to contain the outbreak.
Iran is one of three hot-spots outside China causing concern that the virus could be becoming a worldwide pandemic.
Deputy Health Minister, Iraj Harirchi, on Monday (Feb 24) denied covering up the scale of the outbreak. He appeared in physical discomfort as he spoke to reporters.
“I had a fever as of last night and my preliminary test was positive around midnight,” Mr Harirchi said in a video released on Tuesday (Feb 25)
“I’ve isolated myself in a place since… and now I am starting medication.
“We will definitely be victorious against this virus in the next few weeks,” the minister added.
Iran has reported 95 cases and at least 16 fatalities, but the actual number is thought to be higher.
The director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said the sudden increase in cases in countries outside China is “deeply concerning”.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the Iranian government for concealing “vital details” about its outbreak and urged all nations to “tell the truth about the coronavirus”.
More than 80,000 cases of the Covid-19 respiratory disease have been reported worldwide since it emerged late last year. About 2,700 patients have died – the vast majority in China.
But the situation in Iran – home to holy sites that attract millions of Shiite Muslims every year and in a region where several countries have weak health systems – has caused great concern about a potential mass outbreak in the Middle East.
Imported cases from Iran have already been reported in several Middle Eastern countries like Bahrain, Oman, Iraq, Algeria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Kuwait.