Coronavirus: Iranians urged to remain house throughout vacation

Iranian women shop for Nowruz items at a market in Tehran (19 March 2020)Image copyright AFP
Image caption Iranian ladies store for Nowruz gadgets at a market in Tehran (19 March 2020)

Iran has urged folks to remain at house throughout Nowruz, the Persian New Year, warning that the coronavirus illness is at the moment killing one individual each 10 minutes.

“Considering this information, make a conscious decision concerning travel, days out and family visits,” the health ministry’s spokesman tweeted.

Tehran’s bazaars were busy and its roads filled with cars as Iranians prepared for Nowruz, which starts on Friday.

The country has reported 18,407 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 1,284 related deaths in the past month.

The government has closed schools, universities and shrines, and banned cultural and religious gatherings in an attempt to contain the spread of the disease, but it has not imposed lockdowns.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Workers have been disinfecting streets in Tehran to try to prevent the spread of Covid-19

In a separate development on Thursday, Iran temporarily released an American citizen on medical grounds detained since 2018, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

Michael White, who is serving a 13-year sentence and whose family said he had cancer last year, is now in the custody of the Swiss embassy and will undergo medical testing and evaluation.

“The United States will continue to work for Michael’s full release, as well as the release of all wrongfully detained Americans in Iran,” Mr Pompeo said.

On Thursday, well being ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour introduced 149 new deaths from Covid-19 prior to now 24 hours and one other 1,046 circumstances.

At the present price, he tweeted, “50 new cases of infection are detected every hour and one death recorded every 10 minutes”.

Mr Jahanpour appealed to Iranians to remain at house and never journey through the two-week public vacation for Nowruz, when many households get collectively to have a good time, as a way to assist include the unfold of the virus.

On Wednesday, Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi expressed dismay that some folks weren’t taking the illness “seriously”.

Photographs confirmed many individuals have been nonetheless procuring in Tehran’s bazaars and driving their vehicles in obvious violation of a spiritual ruling from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei forbidding “unnecessary” journey.

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Media captionA lady carrying a face masks strolling on a avenue in Iran

Earlier, the Iranian judiciary’s spokesman introduced that about 10,000 prisoners, half of them serving sentences for “national security offences”, can be granted amnesties by the supreme chief to mark Nowruz.

The amnesty aimed to “reduce the number of prisoners in light of the sensitive situation in the country”, Gholamhossein Esmaili mentioned, with out explicitly referring to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Amnesty International mentioned it welcomed “the discharge of anybody detained as a prisoner of conscience” and called on the Iranian authorities to release all others in its jails.

The judiciary has already given 85,000 inmates two-week temporary releases in an effort to reduce the spread of Covid-19 through its crowded prisons.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Cafes in Egypt are closed from daybreak till nightfall

Many circumstances reported elsewhere within the Middle East have additionally been linked to Iran.

In Jordan, which has reported 35 circumstances of the Covid-19 virus, the military has begun imposing restrictions on entry to the capital, Amman.

Soldiers at checkpoints on primary roads into town have been solely permitting by means of items automobiles and folks travelling on authorised enterprise.

Egypt, the place 4 folks have died and 166 others have been contaminated, has ordered the closure of all cafes and procuring malls from daybreak till nightfall.

Saudi Arabia, which has reported 171 circumstances, has mentioned it’ll minimize authorities spending by 5%, or about $13.3bn, to offset the numerous drop in international oil costs and the influence of the outbreak on its economic system.

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