Coronavirus: Iranian deputy health minister, MP confirmed to have virus

Iran's deputy health minister has tested positive for coronavirus, as the Middle East country continues to battle a recent spike in cases.

The country's Health Ministry on Tuesday (local time) confirmed Iraj Harirchi had contracted the illness. Harirchi had been experiencing weakness and flu-like symptoms on Monday before holding a news conference and subsequently tested positive for the COVID-19 - the official name for coronavirus - later in the day.

During the press conference he could be seen looking uncomfortable and repeatedly wiping sweat from his forehead.

It is unclear how he became infected, but the Health Minister said he had been in contact with a number of patients suspected of having the virus.

He later posted a video to Twitter showing himself in self-quarantine at his home.

Another MP, Mahmoud Sadeghi, also said he had been infected, Reuters reported.

"My corona test is positive ... I don’t have a lot of hope of continuing life in this world," the 57-year-old wrote on Twitter.

Iran has reported 95 cases of coronavirus so far, but many believe the number to be much higher. Sixteen people in the country have died of the virus, the highest death toll outside of mainland China. 

The World Health Organisation has called the country's spike in cases "deeply concerning".

Iran is one of three countries that have seen a sharp increase in cases recently, the others being South Korea and Italy.

There have almost 1000 confirmed cases in South Korea - and 10 deaths - and almost 300 cases in Italy, with seven deaths to date. 

At least a dozen towns in Italy have been placed in lockdown as officials there scramble to contain the outbreak.

On the Spanish resort island of Tenerife, a hotel has also been placed in lockdown after an Italian guest tested positive for the virus.

Around 1000 guests are thought to be staying in the hotel.