Nearly one in five Iranians may have contracted COVID-19

Senior Iranian health official says about 15 million Iranians may have been infected with novel coronavirus.

Elad Benari ,


A senior Iranian health official acknowledged on Tuesday that nearly one in five Iranians may have been infected with the novel coronavirus since the country's outbreak started in February.

"About 15 million Iranians may have experienced being infected with this virus since the outbreak began," said Ehsan Mostafavi, a member of the task force set up to combat COVID-19, according to AFP.

This meant the virus was "much less lethal than we or the world had anticipated", he added.

The figure represents 18.75 percent of the more than 80 million population of Iran, which on Tuesday announced another 74 deaths from the coronavirus.

Mostafavi said the figure was derived from serology tests to identify antibodies in patients who have recovered from the illness.

Iran says it has carried out more than one million PCR tests to "confirm" infections and report them so far.

Health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said 74 new coronavirus fatalities in the past 12 hours had raised the overall death toll to 8,425.

Cases of infection rose by 2,095 over the same period to total 175,927, she added.

Iran for a time was the hardest hit country in the Middle East from the coronavirus. At least 31 members of the Iranian parliament contracted the virus, including its speaker Ali Larijani, who tested positive for COVID-19.

High-profile deaths in Iran from the coronavirus include a member of the council advising the Ayatollah, a former ambassador, a newly-elected member of parliament, an adviser to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and a re-elected member of parliament.

A top adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati, was also reported to have been infected with the virus.