Iranian Officials Infected by COVID-19

Dozens of high-ranking Iranian officials have contracted COVID-19, which originated in China in late 2019 and was first reported in the Islamic Republic in February. Two vice presidents were among the early cases. The virus has since swept through the ranks of the executive branch, parliament, the military, the clergy and even the health care services. 

By October 28, at least 16 current or former officials had died from COVID-19, including Mohammad Mirmohammadi, a member of the Expediency Council, and Hossein Sheikholeslam, a former deputy foreign minister and ambassador to Syria who had been a major figure during the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Five members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards had also reportedly died from the virus.

The virus infected 27 senior officials, including former President Mohammad Reza Khatami and Vice President for Women's Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar. Former Majles speaker Ali Larijian tested positive for COVID-19 in April and then tested positive for a rare reinfection in July. The following is a list of government officials who have contracted the virus organized chronologically by the date of their infection or death. 

 

Deaths

Hadi Khosroshahi (February 27): Khosroshahi was a prominent cleric in the Qom Seminary and served as a representative of Ayatollah Khomeini in the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance after the 1979 revolution. In 1981, he was appointed to be the Islamic Republic’s first ambassador to the Vatican. State media reported that Khosroshahi had died of the novel virus after he was admitted to a Tehran hospital a day earlier.

Mohammad Ali Ramazani Dastak (February 29): Dastak was a newly elected lawmaker from Astana Ashrafieh. The Iranian media reported that he had died from the coronavirus after he was admitted for respiratory and pulmonary disease several days earlier.

Ahmad Tuyserkani (March 1): Tuyserkani was a close advisor to judiciary chief Ibrahim Raisi. State media reported that he had died from the virus.

Sheikholeslam
Hossein Sheikholeslam, an advisor to Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, died in March

Mohammad Mirmohammadi (March 2): Mirmohammadi, a member of the Expediency Council since 2017, was reportedly a close confidant of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He was a member of parliament from Qom for two terms between 2000 and 2008. Mirmohammadi also served as presidential chief of staff under the administrations of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the 1980s and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in the 1990s. State media reported that Mirmohammadi had died from coronavirus. He was the highest-ranking Iranian official to die from the disease.

Hossein Sheikholeslam (March 5): Sheikholeslam, who had studied computer engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, participated in the takeover of the U.S. Embassy. He served as deputy foreign minister from 1981 to 1997. In 1998, he was appointed ambassador to Syria, where he was stationed until 2003. He was a member of parliament for one term between 2004 and 2008. Sheikholeslam died two days after testing positive for coronavirus, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency. Prior to his death, he had been an advisor to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Ayatollah Mohsen Habibi (March 5): Ayatollah Habibi was head of the Seminary of Ayatollah Ahmad Mojtahedi in Tehran and a member of the Supreme Council of Tehran’s Seminaries. He died from coronavirus, state media reported.

Mojtaba Fazeli (March 6): Fazeli served as the chief of staff of top cleric Ayatollah Shobeiri Zanjani. He reportedly died from coronavirus.

Funeral Procession for Fatima Rahbar
Funeral Procession for Fatima Rahbar, who died in March

Fatemeh Rahbar (March 7): Rahbar was a conservative member of parliament who had served as a representative of Tehran for three terms between 2004 and 2016. She was elected to a fourth term in the February 2020 parliamentary elections. Rahbar died of the coronavirus, state media reported.

Ayatollah Reza Mohammadi Langroudi (March 7): Ayatollah Langroudi was a prominent cleric and a student of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic. Langroudi died from coronavirus, state media reported.

Farzad Tazari (March 9): Tazari was the former deputy of the political department of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). He had also been a member of the IRGC’s intelligence organization, according to Tasnim News Agency. He died from the coronavirus.

Mohammad Reza Rahchamani (March 9): Rahchamani represented Sabzeva in parliament for four terms between 1984 and 2000. He was a member of the reformist camp and had served as the secretary general of the National and Cooperation Party. Rahchamani died from the coronavirus, state media reported.

Nasser Shabani (March 16): Shabani was a senior commander of the IRGC, serving in the military for 37 years. In 1982, he helped suppress the Amol uprising as commander of the Amol Corps in Mazandaran province. In 2011, he was appointed president of Imam Hussein University, one of the IRGC's most prestigious universities. Shabani died from the virus, state media reported.

Ayatollah Hashem Bathayi Golpayegani (March 16): Golpayegani was a senior cleric and a representative of Tehran in the Assembly of Experts since 2016. He had previously served as the governor of Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province. He reportedly died from coronavirus two days after testing positive for the disease.

Hamid Kahram (March 19): Kahram was a former member of parliament, who represented the city of Ahvaz from 2000 to 2004. He also served as President Hassan Rouhani’s campaign manager in Khuzestan province during the 2017 presidential election. Kahram died from the virus, state media reported.

Habib Barzegari (March 24): Barzegari served as advisor to the representative of the Supreme Leader in Meybod in Yazd Province. He was a founding member of the IRGC in the city of Meybod. Barzegari died from the coronavirus on March 24.

Issa Jafari (July 13): Jafari was a newly-elected member of parliament who represented the cities of Bahar and Kabudarahang in Hamadan province. He had been admitted to the intensive care unit of a Tehran hospital on July 8. Jafari died from the coronavirus, state media reported.

 

Confirmed Cases

Mojtaba Rahmanzadeh (February 22): The mayor of Tehran’s District 13 reported flu-like symptoms on February 11, 2020.  Rahmanzadeh was one of the first Iranian officials to be diagnosed with coronavirus.

Mohammad Reza Ghadir (February 23): The chancellor of Qom's Medical Sciences University had expressed concern over the spread of the disease in Qom and said that the Health Ministry had blocked him from releasing updated statistics. Ghadir tested positive for the coronavirus in late February.

Iraj Harirchi (February 25): Harirchi, the deputy health minister, initially downplayed the extent of the coronavirus outbreak. “We have managed to reduce the problem to the minimum," he said during a press conference on February 24 in which he appeared visibly sick. Harirchi announced his infection the following day. “We’ll defeat corona. Be assured. I’m saying this deep from my heart. This virus is democratic, and it doesn’t distinguish between poor and rich or statesman and an ordinary citizen,” he said.

Mahmoud Sadeghi (February 25): Sadeghi, a reformist, has represented Tehran in parliament since 2016. Sadeghi was disqualified from running in the February 2020 elections by Iran’s Guardian Council. He announced that he had contracted the virus in a video message. “I send this message in a situation where I have little hope of surviving in this world,” he said. Sadeghi posted subsequent videos on social media saying that he had recovered.

Mojtaba Zonnour (February 27): Zonnour, a conservative lawmaker, was elected chairman of Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee in June 2019. He has represented the holy city of Qom since 2016. Zonnour was elected to a second term in the February 2020 parliamentary elections. He was previously the Deputy Representative of the Supreme Leader to the IRGC. Zonnour announced that he had tested positive for coronavirus in a video message.

Ebtekar
Masoumeh Ebtekar, the highest ranking female official, tested positive in February

Masoumeh Ebtekar (February 27): Ebetkar has served as Vice President for Women’s Affairs since August 2017 and is the highest-ranking woman in Iran’s government. She had previously been a member of Tehran’s City Council from 2007 to 2013 before being appointed Vice President for the Environment between 2013 and 2017. Ebtekar, who had grown up in the United States, gained fame as “Sister Mary” when she was the spokeswomen for the students who seized the U.S. Embassy in 1979. Ebtekar’s deputy confirmed that she had tested positive for coronavirus in late February.

Masoumeh Aghapour Alishahi (February 29): Alishahi is a member of parliament from East Azerbaijan province. She announced that she had tested positive for coronavirus in a video message. “I am certain that I was infected with the virus inside the parliament,” she said.

Mostafa Pourmohammadi (February 29): Pourmohammadi served as Minister of Justice from 2013 to 2017. He was previously Minister of the Interior from 2005 to 2008. State media reported that he had tested positive for coronavirus after being admitted to Tehran’s Daneshvari hospital two days prior.

Pirhossein Kolivand (March 3): Kolivand is director of the Red Crescent Society of Iran, the country’s emergency medical service. He contracted the coronavirus in early March, state media reported.

Jahangiri
Eshaq Jahangiri, the most senior vice president, tested positive in March

Eshaq Jahangiri (March 4): Jahangiri has served as Iran’s First Vice President since 2013. He was the Minister of Industries and Mines between 2001 and 2005. On March 4, Iran Wire reported that Vice President Jahangiri had tested positive for the coronavirus. He was reportedly quarantined in his home after he began showing symptoms on February 28, 2020. The government confirmed that he had the virus on March 11.

Reza Rahmani (March 4): Rahmani has served as the Minister of Industry, Mines and Business since 2018. He had previously served three terms in parliament from 2004 to 2016 as a representative of Tabriz, Osku and Azarshahr. Rahmani tested positive for coronavirus, state media reported. But semi-official ILNA news agency later said that Rahmani had been hospitalized for “chemical injuries” sustained during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

Zohreh Elahian (March 4): Elahian represented Tehran in parliament from 2008 to 2016. She was re-elected in February 2020 to serve a third term. She tested positive for the coronavirus in early march, the semi-official YJC news agency reported.

Esmail Najjar (March 9): Najjar, chief of Interior Ministry's Crisis Management Organization tested positive for the coronavirus in early March. “He has symptoms similar to flu symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19. He was hospitalized but after relative improvement in his conditions and doctors' approval, he was released from the hospital this morning. He will need to be in self-seclusion for a few days at home,” said government spokesman Ali Bakhtiari.

Ali Asghar Mounesan (March 11): Mounesan has served as the minister of cultural heritage, handicrafts and tourism since 2017. Mounesan tested positive for coronavirus in mid-March, Fars News Agency reported.

Ali Akbar Velayati (March 12): Velayati has been Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s foreign policy advisor since 1997. The U.S.-trained doctor is also the president of Tehran's Masih Daneshvari Hospital, where many coronavirus patients were hospitalized. He worked in the health ministry before serving as foreign minister from 1981 to 1997. He tested positive for coronavirus after he had “contacts with many coronavirus patients in past few weeks," state media reported. He was reportedly in self-quarantine at his home "after having experienced mild symptoms of coronavirus." In late March, Velayati had reported recovered from COVID-19 and was seen at a ceremony on March 27. 

Mohammad Reza Khatami (March 28): Khatami served as deputy speaker of parliament from 2000 to 2004. He is a prominent figure in Iran’s reformist faction. Khatami was hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19, state media reported.

Ali
Ali Larijani, Iran's longest serving Majles speaker, tested positive twice: in April and in July.

Ali Larijani (April 2): Larijani is currently a member of the Expediency Council. He formerly served as the speaker of parliament from 2008 to 2020 and Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council from 2005 to 2007. Larijani tested positive for the virus in early April and was placed in quarantine. On July 29, Larijani tested positive for the virus for a second time and was placed in quarantine.

Mohammad Tala Mazloumi (July 4): Mazloomi was a newly-elected member of parliament from the city of Behbahan in Khuzestan province. He had previously served as a general in the IRGC. Mazloomi tested positive for the virus, Tasnim News Agency reported.

Seyed Mohammad Movahed (July 4): Movahed is a member of parliament from Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province. Movahed tested positive for COVID-19, Tasnim News Agency reported

Hosseinali Haji Dalegani (July 4): Dalegani is a member of parliament from the city of Shahin Shahr in Isfahan province. Dalegani tested positive for COVID-19, Tasnim News Agency reported.

Ali Asgar Zaheri (July 4): Zaheri is a member of parliament from Masjed Soleyman in Khuzestan province. He had tested positive for COVID-19, Tasnim News Agency reported

Vahid Jalalzadeh (July 8): Jalalzadeh is a member of parliament from the city of Urmia in West Azerbaijan. He had previously served as the governor of West Azerbaijan province from 2009 to 2013. Jalalzadeh tested positive for the virus, Fars News Agency reported. He was reportedly under quarantine in his home. 

Salehi
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, tested positive in October

Mohammad Mehdi Zahedi (July 8): Zahedi has represented Kerman in parliament since 2012. He also serves as the head of parliament's Commission on Education and Research. He had previously served as the Minister of Science, Research and Technology from 2005 to 2009 and Iran's Ambassador to Malaysia from 2009 to 2011. Zahedi had tested positive for COVID-19, Tabnak News Agency reported.

Ali Rabiei (July 27): Rabiei has served as the government spokesperson since 2019. He previously served as Minister of Labor from 2013 to 2018. Rabiei tested positive for the virus and was hospitalized, Mehr News Agency reported.

Ali Akbar Salehi (October 3): Salehi has served as the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization since 2013. He also served as head of the Atomic Energy Organization from 2009 to 2010. Salehi formerly served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2011 to 2013. Salehi tested positive for the virus and was placed in quarantine, the Tehran Times reported.

Mohammad Bagher Nobakht (October 10): Nobakht has served as a vice president and head of the Planning and Budget Organization since 2016. Nobakht tested positive for the virus in mid-October and was hospitalized for further examination.

Reza Salehi Amiri (October 20): Amiri has served as President of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) since 2018. He had previously served as the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance from November 2016 to August 2017. He was the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports from August to October 2013. He tested positive for the virus in October and was quarantined for two weeks. Amiri was in good physical condition, Tasnim News Agency reported

Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf (October 28): Qalibaf has served as speaker of parliament since May 2020. He had previously served as mayor of Tehran and commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force. Qalibaf was quarantined but would continue working remotely, he tweeted.

Mir-Hossein Mousavi (November 15): Mousavi was the prime minister from 1981 to 1989 and the reformist candidate in the 2009 presidential election. He and his wife, both under house arrest since 2011, tested positive for the virus, an opposition website reported

 

 

Photo Credits: 
Hossein Sheikholeslam by Tasnim News Agency (CC BY 4.0)
Fatemeh Rahbar's Funeral Procession by Fars News Agency (CC BY 4.0)
Masoumeh Ebtekar by Tasnim News Agency via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 4.0)
Eshaq Jahangiri by Tasnim News Agency via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 4.0) Ali Larijani via Tasnim News Agency (CC By 4.0)
Ali Akbar Salehi by Fars News Agency (CC BY 4.0)
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