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Iran Urges Citizens to Avoid Holiday Travel as Virus Deaths Spike

The Iranian Health Ministry on Thursday announced the deaths of 66 people from COVID-19 over the previous 24 hours, raising the country‚Äôs total death toll to 7,249. It added that total infections had reached 129,341. Iran has been battling the deadly pandemic for fourth months, unable to fully contain it. It has now urged citizens to avoid travel in the last days of the holy month of Ramadan that lead to the Eid el-Fitr festival, expected to begin on Sunday. “Our biggest concern” is to have “new peaks of the disease in the country by not respecting health regulations,” Health Minister Saeed Namaki said. The government has been criticized for being slow to react as the pandemic initially traversed the country. It revealed that there were infections only when it announced the first two deaths in mid-February. It took several measures, such as closing schools and places of worship. Last month, however, authorities slowly began easing restrictions, starting with what were in some cases total lockdowns.