Masoumeh Ebtekar, the vice-president of Iran for Women and Family Affairs is one of the Iranian officials who has been tested positive for the coronavirus. However, a photo of eight Iranian officials visiting Ebtekar at the hospital has started doing the rounds on social media with a few netizens criticising them for not wearing protective gears.
"Eight high officials in Iran visited the vice president who has been diagnosed with novel coronavirus, all not wearing masks, does that mean all of them will be infected? (sic)," reads the translated version of the Facebook post by a user named Huang Otto on February 28.
Truth behind the viral photo
The latest claim by netizens has been proved to be false as the photo circulated online was actually taken in 2014. The images of these officials visiting Ebtekar were published by the Iranian newspaper Bahar on April 10, 2014, confirming it to be an old photograph, taken when the vice president was injured in a traffic accident five years before the COVID-19 outbreak. Even Facebook has tagged the post as "false information".
Iranian Embassy in China has also clarified the fact about the viral picture through their Weibo account.
"At a difficult time when the Iranian people are fighting the virus, we regret to see some rumors about Iran circulating on the Internet. For example, someone showed a picture of an Iranian official "visiting the vice president with new crown pneumonia without wearing a mask", but in fact this picture was taken in 2014 when the vice president was hospitalized due to a car accident. To fight against the new coronavirus, human unknown virus, what we need is not rumors but facts; not stigma but unity (sic)."
Coronavirus in Iran
Latest reports suggest that the coronavirus has claimed the lives of 92 people with 586 new infections reported overnight, bringing the total up to 2,922 in the middle eastern country, as of Thursday, March 5. Meanwhile, unconfirmed news reports also claim that Iran's health minister Iraj Harirchi passed away after he had tested positive for the virus a few days ago.
It is understood that as many as 23 parliamentarians in Iran have been infected with the virus. Mohammad Mirmohammadi, an adviser to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini, Ahmad Tuiserkani, an adviser to Iran's Judiciary Head, Hadi Khosroshahi, the Islamic republic's first ambassador to the Vatican are believed to be some officials, who have already died due to the virus infection in Iran.