March 9, 2020 / 7:17 PM / 22 days ago

Iran supreme leader cancels Persian new year speech because of coronavirus outbreak: official site

FILE PHOTO: Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks as he meets with people, in Tehran, Iran February 18, 2020. Official Khamenei website/Handout via REUTERS

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei canceled his speech in the city of Mashhad for Persian new year, which is on March 20, to prevent further infections of coronavirus, according to a statement on his official site.

“The ceremony for the speech of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic revolution, which happens every year on the first day of the new year in (Imam Reza’s holy shrine) will not take place this year and the Supreme Leader will not travel to holy Mashhad,” the statement said, noting that the decision was based on the recommendation of health officials to minimize travel and attending gatherings to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Iran’s health ministry on Monday announced a total of 7,161 infections and 237 deaths from coronavirus, one of the highest death rates from the illness outside of China, where the virus originated.

Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh, Editing by Franklin Paul

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