A 71-year-old top adviser to Ayatollah Khomeini has died after falling ill from coronavirus, the latest sign that Iran is struggling to contain the outbreak less than two weeks after announcing its first case.
Mohammad Mirmohammadi, a member of the Expediency Council, died Monday, according to state radio. His mother had also previously died of coronavirus.
Mirmohammadi is not the only powerful member of Iranian society to become sick from coronavirus. At least seven officials have tested positive for the virus, the Times reported late last week, including the highest-ranking woman in Iranian government, a newly elected member of Parliament, and the government official in charge of coronavirus response, who appeared visibly ill at a press conference last week.
The Iranian government announced Monday that there are 1,501 confirmed cases in the country and 66 people have died. That’s the highest coronavirus death toll outside of China. Officials also said Monday that hundreds of thousands of troops are prepared to be mobilized against the outbreak. They would be sent across the country to sanitize city streets and track down people who may have had contact with the already sick, said Health Ministry spokesperson Ali Reza Raisi.
On Monday, it became clear that the outbreak in Iran is spreading the virus across the Middle East. Cases in Iraq, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates have all been linked back to Iran.
As Iran struggles to contain the outbreak, the U.S. has reportedly offered to help. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi rejected it, saying the U.S. has “created widespread pressure for the people of Iran and even closed the paths for buying medicine and medical equipment,” and calling the offer to help a “ridiculous claim and a political-psychological game.”