The upper echelons of Iran's government have been hit with coronavirus. USA Today reports by way of Iranian state media that 23 members of parliament and the head of the country’s emergency services have the virus—contributing to a count that amounts to nearly 10% of the country's lawmakers; the Guardian puts the figure at 8% of the country's members of parliament. One member of parliament has already died from COVID-19, as has a former ambassador to the Vatican and a close adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei—whom the AP reports has been "pushed ... into wearing disposable gloves while trying to reassure the nation."
The country has said it will activate 300,000 soldiers and volunteers to fight the outbreak, with Khamenei saying, "Whatever helps public health and prevents the spread of the disease is good and what helps to spread it is sin." But he noted that "this disaster, in our opinion, is not such a big disaster, there have been and there are bigger disasters than this. Something has happened, it will exist in the country for a time, which hopefully will be short, and then it will go away." One lawmaker went on TV to advise that "the lawmakers ... cut off their relationship with the public for now." The AP notes that officials have been putting a distance of several feet between each other at meetings. (Read more coronavirus stories.)