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Coronavirus: Iran's first vice president Jahangiri infected

Veteran politician one of the most senior officials in the Islamic Republic and one of 9,000 cases
Eshaq Jahangiri (R), is the most senior vice president in the administration of President Hassan Rouhani (L) (AFP)

Iran's first vice president, Eshaq Jahangiri, has been infected with the novel coronavirus, according to a list published by the semi-official Fars news agency on Wednesday. 

Jahangiri is the most senior official to contract the virus, which has taken the lives of 354 people and infected 9,000 in Iran since its outbreak in February. 

The 63-year-old is one of 24 Iranian officials and lawmakers to be infected with the virus, according to Fars news agency

A former parliamentarian, Jahangiri is the most senior of a total 12 vice presidents in the government of President Hassan Rouhani.

It is not clear to what extent Rouhani himself has been exposed to infected officials such as Jahangiri.

Coronavirus: Iran records jump of 1,000 new cases as 63 die in 24 hours
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Rouhani on Wednesday appealed to the public not to spread rumours about the virus, while the judiciary warned against releasing unofficial numbers. 

"Only the health ministry ... is in charge of announcing figures ... violators will be charged with acting against national security," said Iran's prosecutor-general Mohammad Jafar Montazeri in a statement, according to state TV.

Iran, the worst infected country in the Middle East and third worst worldwide, announced on Wednesday its highest single-day death toll from the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. 

"We have identified 958 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in the last 24 hours, increasing the total number of cases to 9,000 across Iran," Kianush Jahanpur, a health ministry spokesman, told state television. "Also 63 people have lost their lives in the past 24 hours."

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

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has cancelled his annual public speech marking the Iranian new year on 20 March. He said doctors and nurses who die "combating the virus will be recognised as martyrs".