Top adviser to Iran’s Khamenei infected with coronavirus

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A top adviser to Iran’s utmost authority Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has been infected with the new coronavirus, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Thursday.

“Ali Akbar Velayati, who also is the head of Tehran’s Masih Daneshvari hospital, had contacts with many coronavirus patients in past few weeks. He has been infected and is under quarantine now,” Tasnim reported.

A top US general said on Thursday that Iran is significantly underreporting the number of its coronavirus victims and he believed that the global pandemic is making Tehran more dangerous, a day after an attack in Iraq that killed US and British troops.

“I think it is having an effect on how they make decisions, I think it slows them down...I believe the numbers are probably significantly underreported,” US Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of Central Command, said.

Earlier on Thursday, Iran confirmed 1,075 new cases of the deadly coronavirus in the past 24 hours in the country, a health official said.

The Ministry of Health also reported 75 new deaths from the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll there to 429.

In a related development, Bahrain accused Iran on Thursday of “biological aggression” by covering up the spread of the coronavirus and failing to stamp the passports of Bahraini travelers.

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On March 3, Khamenei said that the coronavirus outbreak in Iran is “not that big of a deal,” urging citizens to pray against the virus.

“This calamity is not that big of a deal, and that there have been bigger ones in the past,” Khamenei was quoted as saying by the semi-official Mehr news agency.

Khamenei called on Iranians to pray against the virus “as prayer can solve many problems.”

Visit our dedicated coronavirus site here for all the latest updates.

(With Reuters)