Another prominent Iranian official has succumbed to the deadly coronavirus disease, which has ravaged the West Asian nation. Grand Ayatollah Hashem Bathaei-Golpaygani died on Monday, March 16, after being infected with COVID-19.
Grand Ayatollah was part of top clerical body ruling Iran
The Grand Ayatollah was taken to Qom's Shahid Beheshti hospital on Saturday, March 14. He later died in hospital, Al Arabiya reported on Monday. He belonged to Iran's 'Assembly of Experts', a clerical body, with the authority to supervise, appoint and even sack the Supreme Leader. Bathaei-Golpaygani was the first member of the Qom-based assembly to have contracted and succumbed to the deadly disease.
Islamic holy city of Qom is one of the hardest-hit regions, having reported the first case of the coronavirus infection in Iran, followed by a number of initial cases. About 1,400 persons in Qom are reportedly infected with the virus.
Coronavirus in Iran
As of Monday, Iran has reported 13,938 COVID-19 cases, along with 724 fatalities. Iran has emerged as the epicenter of the epidemic in the Middle East. Several Iranian officials have been infected. The country's deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi, Vice Presidents Masoumeh Ebtekar and Eshaq Jahangiri, head of emergency medical services Pirhossein Kolivand, tourism minister Ali Asghar Mounesan, and industries minister Reza Rahmani have been infected. About 10 percent of the country's parliament has been reportedly infected.
Coronavirus fatalities among prominent Iranian public figures include reformist politician Mohammad Reza, high-ranking Shia Muslim cleric Ayatollah Reza Mohammadi Langeroudi, and diplomat Hossein Sheikholeslam
Some attribute such a large number of infection cases among high-ranking political figures to the February 21 parliamentary elections. It is alleged that the regime suppressed epidemic information as it did not want to reduce the voter turnout. Others attribute such large cases to the fact that public figures have better access to being tested.
Currently, the number of coronavirus cases reported from around the world is 170,178 while the fatalities stand at 6,525.