As international governments scramble to implement travel restrictions and other precautions in response to the Coronavirus outbreak, the health minister who spearheaded Iran’s efforts to contain the virus has contracted it himself.
Iraj Harirchi, the Iranian deputy health minister, appeared physically ill in a Monday news briefing. When tested later that day for the virus, he tested positive, the Health Ministry reported on Tuesday according to the New York Times. (RELATED: DHS Deputy Chief Won’t Rule Out Theory That Coronavirus Was Created In A Chinese Lab)
Following the diagnosis, Harirchi self-quarantined in his home, where he recorded a video detailing his diagnosis.
???? مشاور وزیر بهداشت: تست ابتلای معاون کل وزارت بهداشت به کرونا مثبت شد. pic.twitter.com/fHmwQy11yf
— خبرگزاری فارس (@FarsNews_Agency) February 25, 2020
Iran has emerged as an epicenter of the Coronavirus outbreak, where 15 people have died as a result of the virus, according to Iranian state news media. At least 95 people have been infected with the virus, most of them in the city of Qom, which the state news site describes as a major destination for Muslim pilgrims across the world.
Iraq, Pakistan and Turkey closed their borders with Iran on Sunday due to the rapid spread of the virus, the Guardian reported, following Afghanistan and Armenia’s decision to also close their borders with Iran.
Paired with sanctions and the looming flood season, border closures compound the risk of a national crisis in Iran as the virus continues to spread.