Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 27 October 2020

Coronavirus: Iran's nuclear chief tests positive for Covid-19 as cases rise

Ali Akbar Salehi is the latest senior Iranian official to contract the virus as the government takes more measures to stem the rapid recent rise

Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi has coronavirus, state media reported on Sunday as the country announced another record high in daily fatalities.

Mr Salehi, a vice president and the head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, was under quarantine and resting at home since the test on October 3, news agency IRNA said.

Another vice president, Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, said on Saturday on Twitter that he was under medical observation after contracting the virus during the past week.

IRNA said both Mr Salehi and Mr Nobakht were in good health on Sunday.

Deaths and infections from the virus in Iran have risen sharply since the start of September.

The health ministry said on Sunday that another 251 people died of Covid-19 in the previous 24 hours, yet another record high for a single day in the Islamic republic.

Total virus infections since Iran reported its first cases in February crossed the 500,000 mark on Sunday, with 3,822 more cases confirmed.

Overall, Covid-19 has killed 28,544 and infected 500,075 people in the Middle East country hardest hit by the pandemic.

In March, Expediency Council member Mohammad Mirmohammadi, 71, died of the virus. The council advises the supreme leader. Hadi Khosroshahi, a senior religious leader and ambassador to the Vatican, also passed away. As many as 17 Iranian officials are reported to have died of the virus this year.

Iran on Saturday started imposing fines for the first time for breaches of health regulations in the capital as part of efforts to contain the virus.

Offences that can be fined include refusal to quarantine while sick and failing to wear a mask in a public space. Businesses can also be fined for failing to ensure customers wear masks.

The measures could be extended to other cities in the country if required, according to President Hassan Rouhani.

Updated: October 12, 2020 11:44 AM

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