Adviser to Iran’s top leader dies of coronavirus
TEHRAN (AP) — An adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has died from the new coronavirus, becoming the first top official to succumb to the illness striking both citizens and leaders of the Islamic Republic.
The death of Expediency Council member Mohammad Mirmohammadi, 71, came as Iran announced the virus had killed 66 people among 1,501 confirmed cases in the country. In two days, the number of confirmed cases has more than doubled, showing the spiraling crisis of the outbreak as Iran says it is preparing to mobilize 300,000 soldiers and volunteers to confront the virus.
Iran has the highest death toll in the world after China, the epicenter of the virus that causes the illness called COVID-19.
Across the wider Mideast, there are over 1,680 cases of the new coronavirus, including Iran. The majority of regional cases are linked back to Iran.
Experts worry Iran’s percentage of deaths to infections, now around 4.4%, is much higher than other countries, suggesting the number of infections in Iran may be much higher than current figures show.
Mirmohammadi died at a north Tehran hospital of the virus, state radio said. He previously served as the head of the presidency under former Presidents Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Ali Khamenei, now the country’s supreme leader. Mirmohammadi’s mother had died of the coronavirus in recent days as well, Iranian media reported.
The Expediency Council advises the supreme leader, as well as settles disputes between parliament and the Guardian Council, Iran’s constitutional watchdog that also oversees the country’s elections. The 45-member council, which also includes former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and officials close to Khamenei, last met in February with Mirmohammadi on hand.