An adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has died from the new coronavirus, as other top officials in the country are confirmed to be infected, according to multiple reports on Monday.
The Iranian Health Ministry recorded 523 new cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s known total to 1,501. They mark a 53 percent increase since the day before.
Mohammad Mirmohammadi, 71, was an Expediency Council member who advised Khamenei and settled disputes between him and parliament. COVID-19 has already infected Iran’s vice president and deputy health minister.
His death comes after the government on Monday rejected help from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who announced last week the U.S. was concerned Iran may have covered up details on the spread of the virus.
“We neither count on such help nor are we ready to accept verbal help,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said during a briefing on Monday. He added the country has always been “suspicious” over American intentions, and that the U.S. government was trying to weaken Iranians’ spirits over the outbreak.
Iran’s mortality rate from the virus is roughly 5.5 percent, compared to an overall fatality rate of about 2 percent in China. The difference in rates has led people to suggest the number of infections in Iran is higher than what the country has officially reported. The country’s first case was reported less than two weeks ago.
(Additional reports from agencies)