Coronavirus: Iran closes key Shia pilgrimage sites in Qom, Mashhad and Tehran

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Iran closed three key Shia pilgrimage sites on Monday as part of the country’s efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus, state media reported.

The holy shrines of Imam Reza in Mashhad, Fatima Masumeh in Qom and Shah Abdol-Azim in Tehran will be closed until further notice based on the recommendations of the committee to combat coronavirus and the health ministry, according to state television.

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State news agency IRNA said the closure the Fatima Masumeh shrine prompted angry protests in Qom, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in Iran which has killed 853 people so far.

Some of the protestors chanted “religious slogans” and damaged the entrance door, IRNA added.

Health Minister Saeid Namaki said on state television that the shrines and other unspecified "holy sites are announcing that they agree with our request for closing completely until after the New Year holidays" which start on Friday.

Tehran, Qom and Khorasan Razavi, where Mashhad is located, are some of the worst-hit provinces in Iran.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Iran stood at nearly 14,000 as of Monday, according to the ministry of health.

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