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Iran to reopen many mosques as 47 more die of virus

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said mosques would reopen across large parts of the country Monday, as officials reported a drop in the number of deaths from the novel coronavirus.

Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 47 people died of the virus over the past 24 hours, the lowest daily count in 55 days.

He told a news conference he hoped “the trend will continue in the upcoming days.”

His remarks came as President Hassan Rouhani said 132 counties, around one third of the country’s administrative divisions, would “reopen their mosques as of tomorrow.”

“Social distancing is more important than collective prayer,” he said in a televised meeting of the country’s virus task force.

The president argued that Islam considers safety obligatory, while praying in mosques is only “recommended.”

Mosques and some key Shiite shrines in Iran were closed in early March amid the Middle East’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak.

The targeted counties are “low-risk,” Rouhani said.

The virus taskforce was also mulling reopening schools by May 16 to allow for a month of classes before the summer break.

According to Jahanpour, the 47 new deaths brought to 6,203 the total number officially recorded in Iran since it reported its first cases in mid-February.




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