Iran’s deputy health minister and an MP have both tested positive for the new coronavirus disease, as it struggles to contain an outbreak that has killed 15.
The senior health official, Iraj Harirchi, said in a video that he was self-isolating and starting medication.
He was seen mopping his brow repeatedly at a news conference on Monday, when he denied the authorities were lying about the scale of the Covid-19 outbreak.
On Tuesday an MP from the Iranian capital Tehran, Mahmoud Sadeghi, also said he had tested positive for the virus.
“I don’t have a lot of hope of continuing life in this world,” the 57-year-old tweeted.
They have reported 95 cases, but the actual number is thought to be higher.
The director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said the sudden increase in cases in the country is “deeply concerning”.
More people have died in Iran from the virus than anywhere else outside China.
It is one of three global hot-spots causing great concern among health experts that the virus could be developing into a pandemic.
The others are South Korea and northern Italy, where cases have surged in recent days.
More than 80,000 cases of the Covid-19 respiratory disease have been reported worldwide since it emerged last year. About 2,700 patients have died – the vast majority in China.
But the situation in Iran – home to holy sites that attract millions every year and in a region where several countries have weak health systems – has caused great concern about a mass outbreak in the Middle East.
A hotel in Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands has been locked down after a visiting Italian doctor tested positive for coronavirus.
Hundreds of guests at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace Hotel were told to stay in their rooms as medical tests were carried out.
The doctor is reportedly from the virus-hit Lombardy region. His wife has also now tested positive, sources say.
Global cases of the virus have passed 80,000, the vast majority in China.
Iran, one of the worst-affected nations outside China, on Tuesday said its deputy health minister, Iraj Harirchi, had tested positive for the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday the world should do more to prepare for a possible pandemic – a situation where an infectious disease spreads easily between people in many countries.
Agence France-Presse quoted a health authority spokeswoman, Veronica Martin, as saying that guests at the four-star hotel in the south-west of the island were being monitored for “health reasons and the degree of supervision will be assessed during the day, but so far, we’re not talking about quarantine”. BBC