Iran’s deputy health minister has tested positive for the new coronavirus disease, as it struggles to contain an outbreak that has killed 15 people.

A health ministry spokesman confirmed that Iraj Harirchi was infected with Covid-19 and under quarantine.

President Hassan Rouhani meanwhile urged Iranians not to panic, saying: “We will get through the virus.”

Officials have reported 95 confirmed cases since last week, but the actual number is thought to be far higher.

The World Health Organization has said the sudden increase in cases in the country is “deeply concerning”.

The regional director of the UN agency was due to fly to Iran on Tuesday, but his departure was delayed.

A WHO spokeswoman said it was finalising the dates of a separate visit to Iran by a technical mission and was also sending medical supplies and additional testing kits that should arrive in the next day or two.

There have been more than 80,000 reported cases of Covid-19 worldwide and 2,700 related deaths since the disease emerged late last year.

The vast majority have been in China.

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