On Nowruz, Iranian Leaders Vow to Overcome Coronavirus in New Year Messages

On Nowruz, Iranian Leaders Vow to Overcome Coronavirus in New Year Messages

On Nowruz, Iranian Leaders Vow to Overcome Coronavirus in New Year Messages

Iranian authorities have provided shocking statistics showing the massive scale of the local Covid-19 outbreak.

Despite the dire circumstances caused by the outbreak, many Iranians were angered by the temporary closure of Shi'ite sites, prompting some earlier this week to storm into the courtyards of two major shrines - Mashhad's Imam Reza shrine and Qom's Fatima Masumeh shrine.

Khamenei issued a religious edict this week prohibiting all unnecessary travel and authorities have restricted travel between cities.

The latest figures come as Iranians celebrate Nowruz, the Persian New Year which ushers in a two-week holiday during which Iran's roads are normally filled with people visiting family.

That's even as the death toll in Iran sees another 13% increase today.

The Iranian government and people have been deprived of financial resources and imported goods, it said, adding that Iran is taking measures to curb the spread of the novel infection.

So far, 591 Indians have been evacuated from Iran, the government said.

Iran said it had 189,500 people in prison, according to a report that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, Mr Javaid Rehman, submitted to the Human Rights Council in January.

In this photo released by the official website of the Office of the Iranian Presidency, cabinet members wearing face masks attend their meeting in Tehran, Iran, on March 18, 2020.

Tehran's bazaars were busy and its roads filled with cars as Iranians prepared for Nowruz, which starts on Friday.

The U.S. -led coalition in Baghdad says it will "temporarily return some" of its forces from Iraq to their home countries in coming days and weeks in response to the Iraqi government's decision to suspend all training.

"We have neither the capacity nor the ability to put Tehran under quarantine".

Police later dispersed the crowds, state media reported.

The Union government on Wednesday evacuated another batch of 205 Indians from Iran, where 988 people have died due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That would "reduce the number of prisoners in light of the sensitive situation in the country", said judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili.

Asked whether political prisoners were among those freed, he told a briefing aired by state television: "Yes, about 50 percent of them were security-related prisoners".

Khamenei has ruled out any talks with Washington to reach a new nuclear deal, as demanded by Trump, unless it lifts crippling sanctions that Tehran blames for hampering its efforts to contain the speedy spread of the coronavirus across the country.

The 80-year-old ruler also claimed the country had "benefited" from American sanctions, which had made it more self-sufficient, during his live speech.

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