Iran now officially confirms at least 2,336 coronavirus cases and 77 dead, while members of parliament have been hit hard. Tehran officials have now revealed that 23 parliament members have been confirmed for the virus, suggesting much bigger numbers of infected nationwide, after multiple reports alleged the Islamic Republic is hiding its true numbers, or at least refusing to test.
On that note the country is bracing itself for the possibility of “tens of thousands” getting tested and possibly being confirmed for the virus after the latest spike in cases, an official said previously.
And after a week ago the country's deputy Iran's deputy health minister tested positive, another top health official, the head of the nation's emergency medical services, has been confirmed for Covid-19.
Reuters reports, "The head of Iran’s emergency medical services, Pirhossein Kolivand, has been infected with coronavirus, the ILNA news agency reported on Tuesday." The statement cited that Kolivand’s “health is good and there is no need for concern,” according to ILNA.
Iran has the highest death toll and confirmed infection rate outside of China, Covid-19's epicenter and believed point of origin.
As of Tuesday Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the armed forces to assist Health Ministry in combating the spread, which has at this point even threatened leaders in Tehran, given the vice president was infected and a former top ambassador has died.
It's as yet unclear what role national troops could play, but Fox News reports hundreds of thousands could be mobilized:
After downplaying the coronavirus as recently as last week, Iranian authorities now say they have plans to potentially mobilize 300,000 soldiers and volunteers to confront the virus.
...five seconds later— Russian Market (@russian_market) March 3, 2020
IRAN'S EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES HEAD CONTRACTS CORONAVIRUS https://t.co/W6x1UqEpMl
Thus far the other worst hit country nearby has been the United Arab Emirates, a regional business hub and key transit point between the West and Asia. At the start of this week it reported 21 cases, and authorities had recently locked down two Abu Dhabi hotels on suspicion that a guest had it.
The region's largest airline, Emirates, has also greatly reduced flights and in many instances has had to ground planes altogether.
Meanwhile, previously unscathed Saudi Arabia and Jordan announced their first cases of Covid-19 Monday. The Saudis have lately taken unprecedented measures to ensure it keeps the virus out of the kingdom, including canceling and blocking all visas for religious tourists, which will impact this summer's scheduled annual Haj pilgrimage.