Iranian state TV says the novel coronavirus has killed another 129 people, pushing the country's death toll to 853 amid 14,991 confirmed cases on Monday (March 16, 2020).
Iran is struggling to contain the worst outbreak in the Middle East. Monday saw the biggest one-day rise in the death toll since the epidemic began. Even senior officials have been infected.
A member of the Assembly of Experts, which has the power to appoint or dismiss the country's supreme leader, died from the COVID-19 illness caused by the virus, the semi-official Fars and Tasnim news agencies reported on Monday.
Ayatollah Hashem Bathaei, 78, is the latest of several senior Iranian officials to have died from the virus. Cabinet ministers, members of parliament, Revolutionary Guard members and Health Ministry officials have caught the virus, compounding fears about Iran's response to the global pandemic.