Ali Akbar Salehi
Ali Akbar SalehiReuters

The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi, has contracted the coronavirus, the public relations department of the AEOI confirmed on Sunday, according to the Xinhua news agency.

Salehi tested positive for the virus last week and has been under homecare since, the AEOI said.

"The general health condition of Salehi is favorable and he is constantly following up AEOI affairs," it added.

Iran is one of the worst-hit countries from COVID-19 in the Middle East and has registered a total of 496,253 cases and 28,293 deaths since February.

Salehi is the latest in a series of senior Iranians to have caught the virus. At least 31 members of the Iranian parliament have contracted COVID-19, including its speaker Ali Larijani, who tested positive in April.

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.

Some experts and lawmakers have doubted the accuracy of Iran's official coronavirus tolls. A report by the Iranian parliament’s research center in April suggested that the coronavirus tolls might be almost twice as many as those announced by the health ministry.

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