Iran’s VP Infected by Coronavirus, Saudi Arabia Halts Travel to Mecca, Medina

Masoumeh Ebtekar

Vice President of Iran for Women and Family Affairs, Masoumeh Ebtekar, has tested positive to the coronavirus, according to a report on Aljazera.

Iranian officials had on Tuesday confirmed that Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi had tested positive to the virus and was under quarantine.

The report said Ebtekar was the English-language spokeswoman for the 1979 hostage-takers who seized the US embassy in Tehran and sparked the 444-day diplomatic crisis.

The country’s health ministry said the new coronavirus had killed 26 people while there are 245 confirmed cases.

As part of steps taken to halt the spread of the virus, the report said Iran had cancelled Friday prayers in the capital, Tehran, and around the country.

Iran has also banned Chinese citizens from entering the country.

With more than 220 confirmed cases of the virus in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has halted travel to its holiest sites months ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

The new coronavirus has spread to all the continents of the world except the Antarctica, with 82,000 cases in 48 countries. China however remains the worst hit with 78,000 cases and 2,747 deaths. 32,531 of those infected by the virus have recovered so far.