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17 Mar, 2020 15:35

Iran’s supreme leader issues fatwa banning ‘unnecessary travel’ as coronavirus death toll mounts

Iran’s supreme leader issues fatwa banning ‘unnecessary travel’ as coronavirus death toll mounts

The supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has made a religious ruling that prohibits “unnecessary travel” in the country in a bid to stop the spread of Covid-19. Iran’s death toll from the outbreak is nearing 1,000.

The fatwa urges citizens to respect the orders of the health authorities and to refrain from traveling across the country without a valid reason. The supreme leader has final say on all state affairs and the decree published on Tuesday is a rare move on his part.

Iranian authorities called upon the citizenry to avoid traveling, closing major Shia Muslim holy sites on Monday in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus. Still, many defied the restrictions, while some hardline faithful even broke into locked-down holy sites in Mashhad and Qom overnight, desiring to pray there.

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If the citizenry continues to disregard the health guidelines issued by the authorities, the situation could easily spin out of control, Iranian scientists have warned. Iran will see ‘only’ 120,000 infections and 12,000 deaths if the people actually stick to the health guidelines, a study by Iran’s Sharif University of Technology indicates.

Complete disregard of any guidance, however, is likely to collapse the country’s entire healthcare system – in which case, four million cases and 3.5 million deaths are likely to occur, they stated.

Iran is among the countries hardest-hit by the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, it saw a 13-percent increase in the death toll, which is nearing 1,000.

“The death toll is 988... with 1,178 new infected people in the past 24 hours, now the total number of infected cases is 16,169 across the country,” Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said. He added that 5,389 people infected with the virus have already recovered.

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