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Iran Cancels Friday Prayers As Coronavirus Cases rises. 400 infections,34 deaths.

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Friday Prayers in Tehran have been canceled over the coronavirus outbreak, state media reported, as the authorities confirmed that infected cases in the country spiked by more than 100 — among them Masoumeh Ebtekar, the vice president for women and family affairs.

Ebtekar is the second member of the Iranian government known to be infected, after Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirshi, originally tasked with containing the spread of the virus, tested positive for the COVID-19 on February 25.

All of the members of Ebtekar’s team will now undergo testing for the virus, state news agency IRNA reported.

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Masoumeh Ebtekar

Meanwhile, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said on February 27 that the number of deaths linked to the coronavirus outbreak in Iran has increased by seven to 26 over the past 24 hours — the highest death toll outside of China, where the disease emerged in December.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia on February 27 suspended visas for visits to Islam’s holiest sites for the umrah pilgrimage, which goes on all year round. It was not clear if the annual hajj pilgrimage, which this year begins in July, will be affected.

Pakistan shut schools in Sindh and Balochistan provinces, suspended flights to and from Iran, and began to screen hundreds of people who had recently arrived from its neighbour, officials said.

The South Asian countries reported two cases of the infection on people who had recently travelled to Iran as part of groups of pilgrims from Pakistan’s Shi’ite minority.

The Iraqi government ordered the closure of schools and universities, cafes, cinemas, and other public spaces until March 7.

Travel to or from some of the worst affected countries, including China, Iran, Japan, South Korea, and Italy, were also banned.

Russia’s Federal Tourism Agency recommended national tour operators suspend tours to Iran, Italy, and South Korea until the outbreaks there are brought under control.

The move came after Moscow announced it would stop issuing visas for regular and transit travel for Iranian citizens.

PULLED FROM  Reuters, BBC, AP, AFP, and dpa

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