Iranian Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani has tested positive for COVID-19 and is now in quarantine, the semi-official Isna news agency reported on Thursday, as the number of cases in the country surpassed 50,000.
The 62-year-old has been speaker since 2008 and is one of the most influential politicians in Iran. Before running for parliament, he was former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Chief Nuclear Negotiator.
Iran is suffering from the worst outbreak in the Middle East.
According to the Health Ministry on Thursday, the death toll has risen to 3,160 while a total of 50,468 infections has been recorded.
More than 4,000 of those infected are in critical condition, ministry spokesperson Kianush Jahanpur said.
President Hassan Rowhani predicted on Thursday that the coronavirus crisis would continue to affect the country for many months to come.
“I have to clarify again that we are unable to say when the crisis will definitely be over. It could take months, even until the end of the [Persian] year [March 2021],” Rowhani said.
The current state of emergency is scheduled to remain in place until April 8. A government crisis unit would decide on Sunday if the strict social distancing regulations need to be prolonged beyond that date, Rowhani said, according to the Presidential Office.