Adviser to Iran's foreign minister dies of Covid-19

Seven politicians in Iran have died from the virus.

Matthias Ang | March 07, 2020, 07:06 PM

An adviser to Iran's foreign minister, who also took part in the 1979 U.S. embassy hostage crisis, has died of Covid-19.

The death of Hossein Sheikholeslam, a "veteran and revolutionary diplomat", was reported on March 6 by IRNA, the official news agency of the Iranian government.

It came just before the country's Health Ministry reported that the death toll in the country had reached 124, while the total number of confirmed cases in the country stood at 4,747 on the same day.

Seven of Iran's politicians have died of Covid-19

Thus far, seven of Iran's politicians have died of Covid-19.

These include Mohammad Mir-Mohammadi, an adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, and Mohammad Ali Ramezani, an Iranian Member of Parliament (MP) from Gilan, one of the worst-hit provinces in the country, London-based Asharq Al-Awsat reported.

In addition, an MP from Tehran, Fatemah Rabbar, succumbed to the virus on March 7.

She had been recently elected to parliament during the country's parliamentary elections in February.

Other infected politicians also include Iran's deputy health minister, Iraj Harirchi, and vice-president for Women and Family Affairs, Masoumeh Ebtekar.

All schools and universities in Iran to be closed for a month

In the meantime, all schools and universities in Iran will be shut until March 20, which is the end of the Iranian calendar, in a bid to halt the spread of the virus, Middle East Eye reported.

Checkpoints will also be established between cities to limit travel, while Friday prayers in major cities have also been cancelled, the Times of Israel reported.

On March 4, the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, stated that Covid-19 has since spread to almost all of the country's provinces.

Who is Hossein Sheikholeslam?

Prior to being an adviser to Iran's Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, Sheikholeslam had served as the country's ambassador to Syria, and as deputy foreign minister, from 1981 to 1997.

He was also one of the Iranian students involved in the 1979 U.S. embassy hostage crisis, in which they stormed the embassy and took 52 Americans hostage.

The U.S. subsequently severed ties with Iran in 1980, while the hostages were eventually freed in January 1981, after 444 days in captivity.

Other Iranian politicians affected by the virus:

Top image from Javad Zarif Facebook