Iran’s Nuclear Chief and Top Rouhani Aide Contract Coronavirus

Iran’s Nuclear Chief and Top Rouhani Aide Contract Coronavirus

October 11, 2020

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Iran’s chief nuclear scientist and another top aide to President Hassan Rouhani have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Ali Akbar Salehi, Rouhani’s deputy for nuclear affairs and head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, is resting and self-isolating at home, the semi-official Iranian Student’s News Agency reported on Sunday. Salehi tested positive for the virus on Oct. 3, according to the report, which cited the atomic organization’s spokesman, Behrouz Kamalvandi.

Deputy President Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, the head of the Plan and Budget Organization, also tested positive, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported on Saturday.

Iran, its finances stretched and weakened by U.S. sanctions, has struggled to contain the Middle East’s worst coronavirus outbreak. Cases have surged over the past month after schools and universities reopened following the summer break and some public religious gatherings went ahead in August.

The country reported a record 251 daily deaths from the disease on Sunday, and total cases now stand at 500,075, a Health Ministry spokeswoman, Sima Sadat Lari, said in a statement on state TV news.

Iran Hits New Coronavirus Record as Lockdown Returns to Tehran

Photographs on Rouhani’s official website, president.ir, appear to show Salehi attending a cabinet meeting that the president led on Sept. 30. Nobakht appears to have been last photographed at a cabinet meeting on Oct. 4, according to the website.

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