Iran says the death toll from the new coronavirus has risen to 124 in the Islamic republic, including a former deputy foreign minister who reportedly died after being infected with the virus, RFE/RL reports.
Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpur said on Friday, March 6 that 17 people had died over the previous 24 hours, while more than 1,000 new cases were diagnosed as positive for the virus.
Hossein Sheikholeslam, an adviser to Iran's foreign minister who took part in the U.S. Embassy hostage crisis, died late on March 5 of the COVID-19 illness caused by the virus, the official government news agency IRNA reported.
Sheikholeslam served as a deputy foreign minister in the 1980s and later as an ambassador to Syria, as well as an adviser to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Sheikholeslam was also one of the students who stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and took 52 Americans hostage, which prompted Washington to sever ties with Iran.
The coronavirus has claimed the lives of several other Iranian officials, including an adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and a former envoy to the Vatican.
A number of other officials have tested positive to the virus, including Vice President Masumeh Ebtekar, Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi, and more than 20 parliament deputies.