Iran Responds to Rapidly Spreading Coronavirus


Koosha Mahshid Falahi/ Mizan News Agency via AP

The coronavirus is spreading rapidly in Iran, and has killed one of the advisers to Iran’s Supreme Leader.

Brendan Guillen, Reporter

Iran plans to temporarily release 54,000 prisoners and restrict access to religious sites in the city of Qom in an effort to combat the coronavirus.

According to Iran’s Judiciary Spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili, the health ministry will be responsible for the prisoner release, but Esmaili did not elaborate on where the prisoners would be held or how authorities would keep track of them. Only time will tell how this will affect the general populous of Iran, who are panic-buying goods should the outbreak worsen. Mahdi Shah-Moradi, one of Iran’s National Medical Equipment Producers’ Association board members, said the country has increased production capacity for key sanitizer-ingredient alcohol, though there is a logistical issue getting more products to people.

The religious sites in Qom are being actively watched after reports from Iraq, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain that their coronavirus cases are linked to the city, which is a major travel destination. The Iranian government is now quarantining those trying to leave Qom if they show symptoms of the virus- such as fever- as detected by medical teams in the city, according to Ali Abrazi, a deputy dean at the Qom University of Medical Science. Abrazi has also stated that the university is establishing a field hospital.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, lost one of his top advisers, Mohammad Mirmohammadi, to the coronavirus Monday morning. Mirmohammadi is the highest ranking Iranian official to die from the coronavirus.  Iran announced a total of 92 deaths and 2,922 infections throughout the country.

Mirmohammadi was apart of the 45-member Expediency Council, the part of the Iranian government that regulates tension between parliament and the Guardian Council, which deals with elections. His mother had passed away from the disease days prior.

Many of the 1,700 cases of the coronavirus in the Middle East link back to the Islamic Republic, which has the highest death rates after China. Neighboring Saudi Arabia and Jordan reported the first cases of the virus on Monday.

The coronavirus has spread to all continents besides Antarctica, and has infected more than 90,000 people worldwide.