Iran reopens key shrines after two-month virus closure May 26, 2020 0 502 12345 AFPTehranIran on Monday reopened major Shiite shrines across the Islamic republic, more than two months after they were closed, as it reported its lowest deaths from coronavirus since March.At Tehran’s Shah Abdol-Azim shrine, worshippers had to wear a mask, walk through a disinfection tunnel and have their temperature checked as they began returning from the early morning, according to AFP reporters.Worshippers prayed in the shrine’s courtyard with most observing social distancing.“I am happy that we can again come here. It is a place where people can seek shelter, express their wishes and voice their concerns,” said Karim, a 49-year-old government employee.The devout frequently visit the shrine to seek blessings and healing and call on God to hear their prayers and realise their wishes.Another visitor, 45-year-old engineer Hassan, said he was wearing a mask and keeps disinfectant in his bag “so that my pilgrimage would not lead to infection for myself, my family or other worshippers”.Elahe, a 39-year-old teacher donning a mask and gloves, said she was “so happy” to visit the shrine after months and thanked the health workers “who made it possible for us to be here”.The Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad in northeast Iran and the Fatima Masumeh shrine and Jamkaran mosque in the holy city of Qom also reopened while observing health protocols, state news agency IRNA reported.They are allowed to open starting from an hour after dawn until an hour before dusk.State TV showed worshippers crying and running towards Imam Reza’s shrine as they were guided by attendants.A statement on the shrine’s website said visitors must wearing masks, maintain social distancing, and bring their own prayer mats, books and other accessories, in line with health requirements.Shrines were closed alongside schools, universities and all non-vital businesses in March after Iran reported its first two coronavirus deaths in Qom in late February.On Monday, health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said the total number of COVID-19 infections in Iran had reached 137,724, while the overall number of death had risen to 7,451.In the past 24 hours, Iran recorded 2,032 new cases while the number of fatalities stood at 34 -- the lowest daily count recorded since March 7 -- he told a news conference.Experts inside and outside Iran have cast doubt on the country’s official figures, and say the real toll could be much higher.Iran has allowed a phased reopening of its economy and gradual relaxation of restrictions since early April, with a further easing expected in the coming days despite a recent uptick in new cases.“High-risk” businesses such as restaurants, cafes and wedding halls in Tehran, which were left shuttered, will reopen from Tuesday, the capital’s deputy police chief Nader Moradi told ISNA news agency.Authorities are yet to say when similar measures will be allowed in other provinces. Pages 12 RELATED ARTICLES Afghan govt frees Taliban prisoners as truce holds for second day May 26, 2020 0 1439 Libya unity govt says Russian mercenaries evacuating May 26, 2020 0 481 First Iranian oil tanker docks in Venezuela May 26, 2020 0 60 6-year-old discovers millenia-old clay tablet in Israel Tel Aviv A 6-year-old discovered a 3,500-year-old clay tablet described as unique by archaeologists during an outing with his parents in southern Israel. The family was walking near the village of Re’im in southern .. Eight foreign sailors freed after Benin kidnapping Lagos Eight foreign crew members kidnapped from a Singapore-owned container ship off Benin’s coast in April have been freed and are undergoing medical checks, the Nigerian navy said on Monday. German shipping firm .. Burundi’s opposition contests ruling party’s win in early results DPA Bujumbura Burundi’s main opposition has already refuted the results of the general elections after the ruling party was announced the provisional winner on Monday. The Independent National Electoral Commission .. Mauritius records 2 new COVID-19 cases after month-long lull AFP Port Louis Two residents of Mauritius who were recently repatriated from India have tested positive for COVID-19, the country’s first cases in nearly a month, the government announced late Sunday. The Indian Ocean .. Top Egypt medical union warns of health system ‘collapse’ AFP Cairo Egypt’s top medical union on Monday warned of a “complete collapse” of the country’s health system, accusing the health ministry of negligence in failing to protect healthcare workers from coronavirus. “The ..