Iraj Harirchi, the deputy minister for health, has been infected with coronavirus, according to a tweet posted by an adviser to the health minister and reports from the semi-official news agency ILNA on Tuesday.
A spokesman confirmed that Harirchi is now under quarantine.
Harirchi had held a press conference on Monday with government spokesman Ali Rabiei, he was seen sweating profusely and coughing, prompting questions as to whether he had contracted the virus.
During the conference, Harirchi rejected claims made by an Iranian member of parliament that the coronavirus had claimed the lives of around 50 people in the city of Qom alone. “If the number of coronavirus victims in Qom is a quarter of what media outlets are reporting, I will resign. The figure is incorrect, and we are sure of our statistics,” he said.
The announcement of Harirchi's contraction of the virus comes after countries across the region have closed their borders to Iran as authorities trace the spread of the coronavirus back to the Islamic Republic.
The number of coronavirus fatalities in Iran increased to 15 on Tuesday, making it the most deadly epicenter for the disease outside of China. The Health Ministry added that the number of infected people has increased to 95.
However, professor of epidemiology at Yale University’s School of Public Health Dr. Kaveh Khoshnood estimates the number of people infected with coronavirus in Iran is “likely in the hundreds,” given the confirmed number of 12 dead, but said it is hard to tell “since the exact number of COVID-19 cases in Iran has not been reported.”