Khamenei tells Iranians to avoid Ramadan gatherings amid virus

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Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Thursday appealed for Iranians to pray at home during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Iran has reported more than 4,100 deaths and 66,000 infections from the novel coronavirus, making the country’s COVID-19 outbreak one of the worst in the world.

Khamenei called on Iranians to avoid mass gatherings, such as collective prayers, during Ramadan, which starts later this month.

“In the absence of public gatherings during Ramadan, such as prayers, speeches… which we are deprived of this year, we should not neglect worship, invocation and humility in our loneliness,” he said in a televised speech.

“We need to create humility and supplication in our families and in our rooms.” Iran, which announced its first COVID-19 cases on February 19, is by far the worst hit by the pandemic in the Middle East, according to official tolls. But there has been speculation abroad that the real number of deaths and infections in the country could be higher.

Ramadan is set to start in the last week of April this year.