Leader of the Islamic Ummah and Oppressed Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei has canceled his regular New Year speech at the Imam Reza Holy Shrine in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad in line with health officials’ recommendations to prevent further spread of an ongoing coronavirus epidemic in the country.
The office of Ayatollah Khamenei released a statement on Monday, saying that the ceremony will not be held at the beginning of the coming Iranian year (starts March 20, 2020) as a result of recommendations given by health officials to prevent further spread of coronavirus.
“Hereby, the honorable Iranian nation is informed that due to the spread of coronavirus and strict recommendations given by health officials and specialists to avoid any form of gathering and refrain from traveling and getting out of cities to prevent spread of the disease, the Leader’s speech ceremony, which is held every year on the first day of the new [Iranian calendar] year at the holy shrine of Imam Reza (Peace Be Upon Him) will not be held this year, and the Leader will not travel to Mashhad,” the statement read.
The Leader’s office expressed hope that people’s full compliance with the instructions given by health officials will lead to final eradication of the disease.
The novel coronavirus, which first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has killed more than 3,800 people and infected over 108,000 others in at least 95 countries.
Iran has been the worst-hit country in the Middle East, with a total of 237 deaths and 7,161 infection cases.