Iranian authorities threaten use of ‘force’ to halt travel amid coronavirus

A city worker disinfects a bus stop sign because of the new coronavirus in Tehran on March 5, 2020. (AP)

Iranian authorities warned on Friday that they may use “force” to limit travel between cities amid the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour did not elaborate on the threat to use force, though he acknowledged the virus now was in all of Iran’s 31 provinces.

The threat may be to stop people from using the closed schools and universities as an excuse to go to the Caspian Sea and other Iranian vacation spots. Semiofficial news agencies in Iran posted images of long lines of traffic of people trying to reach the Caspian coast from Tehran on Friday despite authorities earlier telling people to remain in their cities.

Iran on Thursday announced it would put checkpoints in place to limit travel between major cities, hoping to stem the spread of the virus.

Iran canceled Friday prayers across its major cities. Elsewhere in the region, Iraq canceled Friday prayers in Karbala, where a weekly sermon is delivered on behalf of the country’s top Shia cleric.

More than 4,990 cases of the virus, which causes the illness COVID-19, have been confirmed across the Middle East.

Iran and Italy have the world’s highest death tolls outside of China.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 10:05 - GMT 07:05
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