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Iranian senior cleric dies from coronavirus as president says infections peak has passed

A senior Iranian cleric has died from coronavirus as the country continues to battle the pandemic, which has killed more people in Iran to date than any other country outside of China and Italy.

Ayatollah Hashem Bathaei-Golpaygani died Monday, according to multiple Iranian news outlets. The 79-year-old cleric was a member of Iran's Assembly of Experts, the body that chooses the country's supreme leader—currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Bathaei-Golpaygani was taken to the Shahid Beheshti Hospital in the city of Qom to the south of Tehran on Saturday. Despite treatment, he passed away on Monday morning, Mehr News Agency reported.

The chairman of the Assembly of Experts, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, said his late colleague had "devoted his life to serving the Islamic establishment, promoting the teachings of the Prophet and lecturing in seminary and university."

The speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, also expressed his sadness at the news. He said Bathaei-Golpaygani had been devoted to "compiling valuable intellectual and religious works, and educating students" in his role.
Iran has been one of the nations worst affected by coronavirus. The Iranian health ministry said Monday the number of confirmed cases had risen to 14,991 with 853 deaths.

The pandemic has taken hold at every level of Iranian society, infecting and killing normal citizens as well as senior regime officials.