The coronavirus epidemic in Iran has cost 26 lives , the health ministry announced Thursday , with a vice president becoming the latest top official to be infected as the spread appeared to accelerate .
Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told a news conference that the tally of infections had risen to 245 with 106 more cases confirmed , the highest number for a single day since Iran announced its first infections on February 19.
The Islamic republic has the highest death toll from the virus outside China, where COVID – 19 first emerged .
Among the latest coronavirus sufferers is one of Iran ’ s seven vice presidents , Massoumeh Ebtekar , who oversees women ’ s affairs .
Ebtekar , a former spokeswoman for students who took 52 Americans hostage at the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 , is being treated at home and members of her team have been tested , state news agency IRNA reported .
Mojtaba Zolnour, head of parliament ’ s national security and foreign affairs committee, also contracted the virus , appearing in a video posted by Fars news agency saying he was in self- quarantine .
The cleric is a deputy for the Shiite holy city of Qom in central Iran where the country’ s first cases were detected .
According to media reports , among the deceased in Qom on Thursday was theologian Hadi Khroroshahi, who in 1981 was named Iran ’ s first ambassador to the Vatican.
The announcement by Zolnour comes two days after another top official , deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi , head of the government ’ s coronavirus task force, said he too had contracted the virus.
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