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Coronavirus: Iran parliament speaker Ali Larijani in quarantine after testing positive

Larijani among many other MPs and senior officials who have contracted the Covid-19 virus
Ali Larijani, 62, is the latest Iranian official to be diagnosed with Covid-19 (AFP)

Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to a parliament statement

The Islamic Republic is the worst affected country in the Middle East, with at least 3,160 deaths and 50,468 confirmed cases of Covid-19 as of Thursday. 

Health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur told state TV on Thursday that the country had registered 2,875 new cases in the past 24 hours, adding that 3,956 infected people in total were in critical condition, while another 16,711 had recovered from the disease. 

Several senior Iranian officials have tested positive for the virus, including senior adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati, and Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri

At least seven officials and lawmakers, including an adviser to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, have died from the virus.

Earlier this week, the sanctions-hit country received its first delivery of medical equipment from France, Germany and the United Kingdom, in the first transaction conducted under the Instex trading mechanism aimed at bypassing crippling US sanctions. 

Last week, the US imposed a new set of sanctions against Iran, despite pleas from key members of Congress and world powers that Washington ease its unilateral sanctions, as Iran struggles to cope with the rapidly spreading virus.