Ayatollah Hashem Bathaei-Golpaygani, member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts, has been infected with coronavirus, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported on Saturday.
Bathaei-Golpaygani is currently hospitalized in Qom’s Shahid Beheshti hospital, the head of his office told ISNA.
Iran’s Assembly of Experts is a clerical body that supervises, appoints and in theory can sack the Supreme Leader.
Bathaei-Golpaygani is the first member of the Qom-based assembly to have contracted coronavirus.
At least 13 Iranian regime figures have died from the virus and 11 others were infected since the beginning of the outbreak in the Islamic Republic.
As of Saturday, 611 in Iran have died from coronavirus and there are 12,729 confirmed cases.
State media outlets also reported on Saturday that the country’s two main Shia shrines – the Fatima Masumeh shrine in Qom and the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad – will be closing.
The Imam Reza shrine will be closed until Monday, and the Fatima Masumeh Shrine will also be closed “soon,” state media reported.
Up until now, Iran’s powerful clergy has strongly opposed calls to close down religious shrines in the country in order to prevent further spreading of coronavirus.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s representative in Qom called on Iranians last month to visit the city’s Fatima Masumeh shrine, calling it a “place of healing,” despite the coronavirus outbreak in the city.
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