Rouhani Warns of Months of Crisis, Larijani Has Coronavirus
Iran said on Thursday that the coronavirus has killed another 124 people, raising its total to 3,160, as President Hassan Rouhani warned that the country may still battle the pandemic for another year in a rare acknowledgment of the severity of the outbreak.
Iran's parliament also announced Speaker Ali Larijani has contracted the virus, saying he was receiving treatment in quarantine.
Larijani, a former Revolutionary Guard commander who enjoys close relations to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has led Iran's legislative body since 2008. Over the years he has held various positions in the top ranks of Iran's government, including head of state television, minister of culture and secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, which helps set foreign and defense policy. A number of his family members also hold top government positions.
Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour earlier announced the latest death toll in a news conference and confirmed 3,111 new infections over the past 24 hours, bringing Iran's total to 50,468.
He said 16,711 of those hospitalized had so far recovered.
Iran has been scrambling to contain the COVID-19 outbreak since it reported its first cases on February 19.
After weeks of refraining from imposing a lockdown or quarantine measures, Tehran decided last week to ban all intercity travel until at least April 8.
There is no official lockdown within Iran's cities, although the government has repeatedly urged Iranians to stay at home to contain the spread of the virus.
Rouhani warned at a cabinet meeting Thursday that there was no quick fix.
"Coronavirus is not something for which we can point to a certain date and say it will be completely eradicated by then," he said.
Rouhani said the virus "may be with us in upcoming months, or until the end" of the current Iranian year, in March 2021.
The country, one of the world's worst hit by the pandemic which originated in China, must remain vigilant and more limitations may be implemented, he said.
“We always have to follow healthy protocols provided by the health ministry," Rouhani said.