Fatemah Rahbar, a member of Iran’s parliament representing the capital city of Tehran, died on Saturday from Covid-19. Rahbar, age 55, was the second member of parliament and the seventh Iranian leader to die from the coronavirus.
The Iranian leadershi[ has been hard-hit by the coronavirus. Rahbar, age 55, was the second member of parliament and the seventh Iranian leader to die from the coronavirus.At least 23 members of Iran’s 290-member “Majlis” or parliament have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to Iran’s Deputy Parliament Speaker Abdul Reza Misri. This includes the deputy health minister and one of the vice presidents. This figure represents about 8% of Iran’s government. One week after elections for the parliament, the government suspended open parliamentary sessions indefinitely.
On Saturday, health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour announced on a televised news conference that there had been 21 new deaths and 1,076 new cases of coronavirus over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 145 dead and 5,823 infected in Iran. He emphasized that 1,669 of the confirmed cases recovered from the illness.
“More than 16,000 people are currently hospitalized as suspect cases,” Jahanpour said during a televised news conference.
The government has taken serious measures to combat the spread of the pandemic. Iran temporarily released 54,000 prisoners from overcrowded jails. Mohammad Ja’far Montazeri, Iran’s prosecutor general, said on Sunday that hoarding or disrupting the supply of healthcare items could entail punishments as severe as the death penalty. Hassan Norouzi, the spokesman for the parliament’s legal and judicial committee, told the Tehran Times that the government had instituted a 3-year jail sentence for those who spread fake news or rumors about coronavirus in the country.
China, the epicenter of the outbreak, has so far reported 80,651 cases, of which 3,070 were fatal.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blamed U.S. economic sanctions for the toll the pandemic is taking on his country. President Trump “is maliciously tightening US’ illegal sanctions with the aim of draining Iran’s resources needed in the fight against #COVID-19 — while our citizens are dying from it” Zarif tweeted on Saturday.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) March 7, 2020
The Iranian Student’s News Agency (ISNA) reported that Gen. Hossein Salami, the commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said that the coronavirus may be the product of an “American biological invasion.”
“Today the country is engaged in a biological battle,” Salami said. “[The coronavirus] is American biological invasion that first spread to China and then to Iran and other parts of the world, and the United States knows that it did that.”
“America should know that this virus will return to it if it was behind it,” said Salami.
Iranian civil defense chief Gholam Reza Jalali echoed this accusation. Without naming the United States as the culprit, Reza said, that a “biological attack has been launched against China and Iran with economic goals.”