Several Iranian high-ranking officials from President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet have taken ill with the COVID-19 coronavirus, including Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar.

Ebtekar is better known to Americans as “Mother Mary,” the spokeswoman of the hostage-takers during the 444-day Iran hostage crisis.

Ebtekar is one of about a dozen vice presidents in the Iranian government and was present at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 26, where President Rouhani was also in attendance. At the meeting, Rouhani stated that individuals would continue to be quarantined, but not entire cities, like Qom, a center for pilgrims where the virus was first detected. Visitors are still entering the city, reports Breitbart.

Others to test positive are the chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Affairs Committee Mojtaba Zolnour, and Member of Parliament Mahmoud Sadeghi, and Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi.

With 26 deaths, Iran has so far the highest death toll from coronavirus outside of China. And 270 have tested positive.

State media also announced on Thursday that Iranian cleric Hadi Khosroshahi had died from the infection in Qom. He had served as the Iranian ambassador to the Vatican after the 1979 revolution.

“We will definitely be victorious against this virus in the next few weeks,” Deputy Health Minister Iraj Haririchi said on Tuesday in the videotaped message where he announced he had contracted the virus.

“I had a fever as of last night and my preliminary test was positive around midnight,” he said. “I’ve isolated myself in a place since. A few minutes ago, I was told that my test was final, and now I am starting medication.”

During a news conference the previous day in Tehran, Haririchi had appeared unwell, wiping sweat from his face and coughing. He denied a claim by a lawmaker that the virus had claimed 50 lives in the Shiite shrine city of Qom, saying if the claim proved to be true he would resign from his position.

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