Amid the Coronavirus outbreak across the globe, a key advisor to Iran's supreme leader has been placed in quarantine after experiencing "mild symptoms", an Iranian news agency reported on Thursday. It quoted a spokesman at Tehran's Massih Danechvari hospital for its report.
Ali Akbar Velayati, who advises supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on foreign policy, was "quarantined after having experienced mild symptoms of coronavirus," the agency said. The hospital, of which Velayati, a pediatrician by profession, is the head, is the main center for coronavirus patients.
"Yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon, when the light symptoms appeared, doctors prescribed a test" for the 74-year-old Velayati, Tasnim said. He was later placed in isolation at his home and given medicine, the agency added without saying whether Velayati had tested positive for the virus. But Tasnim said that Velayati's "general health is improving".
Velayati is a close adviser to Khamenei and served as Iran's foreign minister from 1981-1997. Several politicians and officials both sitting and former have been infected, with some dying from the illness. On March 3, one of the advisors to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei died after contracting the lethal virus.
With Coronavirus hitting the high-ranking levels of the Iranian government, it was reported that Iran's senior vice president and two other cabinet members were contracted for the virus. Iran's Minister of Culture Heritage, handicrafts and tourism and Minister of industry, mines, and business were among the senior officials who exuded the symptoms.
Iran said on Thursday that it had asked for an emergency 5 billion US dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund to help fight the spread of a new virus that's swept across the country, infecting more than 10,000 people and killing hundreds.
The gravity of the situation in Iran came to light after it was reported on Saturday that the Coronavirus burial pits in the country are apparently so vast that they were visible from space. At the Behesht-e Masoumeh complex in Qom, situated about 130km south of Tehran, the excavation of a new section of the graveyard started as early as February 21, and it rapidly expanded as the virus spread. By the end of the month, two vast trenches measuring about 100m in length were visible at the site from space.
(With agency inputs)