Iranian president urges coronavirus caution during religious festivities
Muslims around the world mark the Eid Al Adha feast, due to start at the end of the month
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged people on Saturday to observe health protocols and practice social distancing during Muslim festivities, as a health official said there was a surge in coronavirus infections in a major holy city.
Muslims around the world will mark the Eid Al Adha feast, due to start at the end of the month. This year, Saudi Arabia is to limit the number of domestic pilgrims attending Hajj to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Most Iranians are Shiite Muslims, who also mark their most significant mourning ceremonies of Ashura in September.
"Let glorious festivities be held in mosques and religious centres by observing health protocols and social distancing," Mr Rouhani said in a televised speech.
"Let masks this year be part of the glorious mourning of Muharram," Mr Rouhani said, referring to Ashura, the 10th day of the lunar month of Muharram, when according to Islamic tradition Imam Hussein was killed in battle in 680.
Eid Al Adha rituals include the sacrificial slaughter of sheep and giving to the poor. Iranian health officials have urged the faithful to package the meat before distribution.
Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi, speaking on state television, urged people not to visit the northeastern holy city of Mashad, which he said has suffered an increase of 300 per cent in coronavirus cases over a one-month period.
Millions typically visit Mashad's Imam Reza shrine, which is Iran's largest Shiite religious complex.
Iran's total tally of coronavirus cases hit 288,839 on Saturday, with 15,485 deaths, health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said on television.
The country gradually lifted its Covid-19 restrictions from mid-April, but they have been reimposed in most areas after a sharp spike in cases. On Saturday, officials in the capital, Tehran, extended restrictions by another week.
Updated: July 25, 2020 06:22 PM