The Iranian Health Ministry says the country has seen 301,530 cases of the coronavirus since it announced the first infections on February 19. The ministry added that 226 people had died from COVID-19 or its complications over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 16,569. The government is demanding that citizens adhere to health directives as they go into Eid al-Adha, a normally joyous holiday that usually involves large family gatherings for meals, and the exchange of gifts. Last weekend, the country’s deputy health minister warned Iranians to stay away from the northeastern holy city of Mashhad because it is face a major spike in coronavirus cases, seeing a 300% increase in just one month. Iran is considered the Middle East’s epicenter for the pandemic, with many countries in the region tracking their first cases to people arriving from the Islamic Republic.