Coronavirus kills senior cleric as Iran toll hits 853
Tehran: The novel coronavirus killed a top Iranian cleric Monday, the Islamic republic said as it reported yet another record high single-day death toll in one of the world’s worst-hit countries. The latest 129 deaths brought the overall toll to 853 fatalities among nearly 15,000 infections since February 19, when the government announced Iran’s first cases of the COVID-19 disease.
“Our plea is that everyone take this virus seriously and in no way attempt to travel to any province,” health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said.
The disease has now killed at least 12 Iranian politicians and officials, both sitting and former, and infected 13 more who have either been quarantined or are being treated. The latest was Ayatollah Hashem Bathayi Golpayegani, a member of the Assembly of Experts — an 88-strong body of clerics that appoints and monitors the country’s supreme leader.
The ayatollah, who was 78, died two days after testing positive for the disease and being hospitalised, state news agency IRNA reported. The novel coronavirus also claimed the life of prominent economist and political activist Fariborz Rais-Dana on Monday.
A prolific writer with a PhD from the London School of Economics, he had spent time in prison after being convicted of spreading propaganda against the system.
The health ministry also reported 1,053 confirmed new cases of infection in the past 24 hours, raising the total to 14,991. Iran has been scrambling to contain the rapid spread of COVID-19 after it emerged in the holy Shiite city of Qom last month. – AFP