Iran revealed Tuesday that nearly 10 percent of Iranian lawmakers have been infected with the coronavirus as the deadly epidemic spreads through the country.
On Monday, an adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei died after he was infected with the coronavirus, which has also infected Iran’s vice president and deputy health minister.
The virus has killed at least 77 people in Iran and infected over 2,300 others. Iran has the most fatalities outside of China, where the coronavirus originated, which has over 80,000 confirmed cases and close to 3,000 deaths. The official fatality rate in Iran stands at 5.5 percent, well above the roughly 2 percent death rate reported in China.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei downplayed the extent of the virus in his country but nevertheless said Tuesday that he is putting Iran’s armed forces on alert, although he did not specify how the military would help combat the epidemic.
“This calamity is not that big of a deal, and that there have been bigger ones in the past,” Khamenei said, according to the Mehr news agency. “I do not want to underestimate this issue of course, but let us not overestimate it either.”
Iran has so far refused U.S. offers of help to combat the virus, expressing suspicion that the U.S. is trying to break the spirits of Iranians over the epidemic.
Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that Iranian government was attempting to cover up the scope of the toll the virus is taking on the population.
“The United States is deeply concerned by information indicating the Iranian regime may have suppressed vital details about the outbreak in that country,” Pompeo said
The coronavirus has killed more than 3,000 people worldwide and has infected more than 90,000. The U.S. currently has 103 cases of people infected with the virus, and six people have died.