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Iran to reopen many mosques as 47 more die of coronavirus

Iran to reopen many mosques as 47 more die of coronavirus

AFP
Tehran
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said mosques would reopen across large parts of the country Monday, as officials reported a drop in the number of deaths from the novel coronavirus.
Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 47 people died of the virus over the past 24 hours, the lowest daily count in 55 days.
He told a news conference he hoped “the trend will continue in the upcoming days”.
His remarks came as President Hassan Rouhani said 132 counties, around one third of the country’s administrative divisions, would “reopen their mosques as of tomorrow”.
“Social distancing is more important than collective prayer,” he said in a televised meeting of the country’s virus taskforce.
The president argued that Islam considers safety obligatory, while praying in mosques is only “recommended”.
Rouhani did not give the names of the counties affected by the measure or the number of mosques due to reopen on Monday.
The measure is not expected to be implemented in the capital, Tehran, or in the main Shiite holy cities of Mashhad which are among those most affected by the outbreak.
Mosques and some key Shiite shrines in Iran were closed in March amid the Middle East’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak.
The targeted counties are “low-risk”, Rouhani said.
The virus taskforce was also mulling reopening schools by May 16 to allow for a month of classes before the summer break.
According to Jahanpour, the 47 new deaths brought to 6,203 the total number officially recorded in Iran since it reported its first cases in mid-February.
He added that 976 fresh infection cases were confirmed in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 97,424.
Over 78,420 of those hospitalised have since been discharged, while 2,690 are still in critical condition.
Experts and officials both in Iran and abroad have cast doubts over the country’s COVID-19 figures, saying the real number of cases could be much higher than reported.
Rouhani claimed hospital visits over potential infections were “much lower” compared to recent weeks.
He said it is due to “83 percent of people on average observing health protocols” and thanked Iranians for their “cooperation”.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Sunday announced they were cancelling the annual day of protests against Israel known as Qods (Jerusalam) Day seemingly over the coronavirus pandemic.

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