IRAN: Top Official Dies Of Virus, US Help Rejected

The Associated Press reports:

A member of a council that advises Iran’s supreme leader died Monday after falling sick from the new coronavirus, state radio reported, becoming the first top official to succumb to the illness striking both citizens and leaders of the Islamic Republic.

The death of Expediency Council member Mohammad Mirmohammadi, 71, came as Iran announced the virus had killed 66 people among 1,501 confirmed cases in the country. In two days, the number of confirmed cases has more than doubled, showing the spiraling crisis of the outbreak as Iran says it is preparing to mobilize 300,000 soldiers and volunteers to confront the virus.

Those sick include Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar, better known as “Sister Mary,” the English-speaking spokeswoman for the students who seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and sparked the 444-day hostage crisis, state media reported. Also sick is Iraj Harirchi, the head of an Iranian government task force on the coronavirus who tried to downplay the virus before falling ill.

Newsweek reports:

An Iranian official has dismissed President Donald Trump’s offer of help in fighting the coronavirus, which on Monday claimed the life of a senior aide to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi said Monday that the U.S. is seeking to use the virus outbreak as part of its propaganda campaign against Iran to undermine national unity.

“Since the outbreak of the virus in Iran, we have been observing the U.S.-led anti-Iranian propaganda campaign and know about the measures the Americans have taken to reduce Iranian nation’s morale,” Mousavi told reporters, according to the Mehr News Agency.

Mousavi added that Tehran is “doubtful” about the U.S. offer of help and accused Washington of hiding its political motives behind the proposed cooperation. “We do not need them,” Mousavi said.