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Iran Health Officials Warning To Stay Home During Eid Al-Fitr Holiday

Clerics visiting coronavirus patients in Tehran. Undated

Amid ever-increasing number of infections, Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi on Friday once again called on Iranians to stay home during the Eid Al-Fitr holiday to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Many Iranians who will be celebrating the end of the fasting month are planning to travel to other cities or visit family members on the occasion of the holiday.

The day of Eid al-Fitr depends on the sighting of the new moon by naked eye which is most likely to fall on Sunday for Iranians this year.

"The main factor in the spread of coronavirus is increased contact with others," Dr. Iraj Harirchi said and pleaded with people not to put their own and other people's lives in danger. "Traveling to epidemic red zones endangers our own lives while going to white zones put the lives of the people of those cities in danger," he said.

For the first time in the history of the Islamic Republic, the Eid prayers have been cancelled in most major cities including Tehran where the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei usually leads the congregation and delivers a sermon.

Even in cities and towns designated as white zones, the prayers have been limited to small congregations while in Khuzestan Province prayers and all other gatherings are banned altogether.

According to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), authorities in Bagh-Malek, a city in Khuzestan Province, have arrested a religious speaker for attending a funeral ceremony and delivering a speech. "People's health is our red line and we will show no leniency about this," the Public Prosecutor of Baq- Malek declared.

Also for the first time, anti-Israeli Qods Day rallies​ planned for the last Friday of Ramadhan were canceled and replaced with a televised speech by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

According to the latest official announcement, the number of COVID-19 cases in Iran has passed the 130,000 mark and reached 131,352 with 2,311 new cases since Thursday. The number of deaths that has dropped to 40 on May 18 after seventy days has slightly increased again with 51 more deaths registered on Thursday.