Ayatollah Adviser Dies from Coronavirus

Mohammad Mirmohammadi,  a member of the Expediency Council that advises Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He is the third and highest-ranking Iranian official to die from the coronavirus since the government announced two weeks ago that the pandemic had infiltrated its borders. 

Iranian media said announced that Mirmohammadi, age 71, died in a hospital in north Tehran on Monday. Mirmohammadi’s mother, the sister of Grand Ayatollah Shobeiri Zanjani, had also died recently of the virus. At least seven other Iranian officials have tested positive for the virus.

Mirmohammadi was a member of the central council of the Islamic Republic Party, presidential chief of staff during the presidencies of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and secretary general of the Islamic Civilization Party.

Mirmohammadi was from the city Qom and had served on its parliament for the last two terms. The city, the seventh-largest metropolis in Iran, is considered sacred by Shia Muslims and is a pilgrimage site. It has also been hard-hit by the coronavirus.

The Iranian government announced Monday that there are 1,501 confirmed cases in the country and 66 people have died, the highest coronavirus death toll outside of China.  

But these numbers have been contested. The Guardian and  AFP cited the semi-official ILNA news agency that reported the claims of Ahmad Amirabadi Farahani, a government official from the city of Qom, as saying that at least 50 people have died in that city alone. Farahani claimed that 250 people are quarantined in the city.“We have made offers to the Islamic Republic of Iran to help,” Pompeo said in a hearing at House Foreign Affairs Committee. “Their healthcare infrastructure is not robust and to date, their willingness to share information about what’s really going on inside…Iran has not been robust and I am very concerned that….it is Iran that is not sharing information.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday the United States has offered to help with the coronavirus response in Iran.

“We have made offers to the Islamic Republic of Iran to help,” Pompeo said in a hearing at House Foreign Affairs Committee. “Their healthcare infrastructure is not robust and to date, their willingness to share information about what’s really going on inside…Iran has not been robust and I am very concerned that….it is Iran that is not sharing information.”

Protests broke out between security forces and citizens angry at the government’s handling of the crisis with videos surfacing on social media of clashes.

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. 

Prayers in Tehran and 22 other cities were canceled on Friday, and schools and universities closed. In Tehran, the capital city, authorities ordered snack shops and water fountains in subway stations to close, and buses and subway trains to be disinfected daily, AFP reported.

The Health Ministry advised against all public events, such as weddings or funerals. Schools and universities, along with cultural gathering places such as cinemas, theaters, and concert halls, have all been closed. Voter turnout last week for parliament elections was a record low.

At least 11 countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Armenia, and Turkey closed their borders with Iran. Other regional countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, UAE, Oman, and Georgia have also imposed travel and immigration restrictions. Qatar Airways also announced that it would quarantine passengers arriving from Iran and South Korea for 14 days, even if they show no signs of the coronavirus. More news @ BreakingIsraelNews