Leader’s New Year speech canceled over coronavirus outbreak

March 10, 2020 - 18:11

TEHRAN — Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s annual New Year speech at the Imam Reza holy shrine in the northeastern city of Mashhad will not be held due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

According to a statement by Ayatollah Khamenei’s office, the event has been canceled as a result of recommendations given by health officials to prevent further spread of coronavirus.

“Hereby, the honorable Iranian people are informed that due to the spread of coronavirus and strict recommendations given by health officials and specialists to avoid any form of gathering and refrain from traveling and getting out of cities to prevent the spread of the disease, the Leader’s speech ceremony, which is held every year on the first day of the new (Iranian calendar) year at the holy shrine of Imam Reza (AS) will not be held this year, and the Leader will not travel to Mashhad,” the statement read.

The Leader’s office voiced hope that people’s full compliance with the instructions given by health officials will lead to final eradication of the disease.

The virus first emerged in China in December last year and is now spreading in North America, Europe and across the Middle East, sparking fears of a global pandemic. The virus is spreading rapidly in the region, with cases recorded in many countries.

Until Tuesday, the deadly virus killed over 290 Iranian citizens and infected more than 8,000.

Last week, Ayatollah Khamenei said it is essential that citizens follow health guidelines to help boost the country’s battle against the coronavirus outbreak.

“These guidelines must not be disobeyed, because God has made us duty bound to feel responsible for the health of ourselves and others,” he said on March 3 after he planted two saplings, an annual tradition in honor of National Arbor Day and Natural Resources Week.

He added, “Anything that helps prevent the spread of coronavirus is a good deed and anything that helps spread it is a sin.”

The Leader also said that all sectors of the country must fully cooperate with the Ministry of Health, which is at the forefront of the campaign to contain coronavirus. 

“The Armed Forces and the sectors related to the Office of the Leader have also been ordered to do the same,” he added.

Elsewhere, Ayatollah Khamenei said, “Coronavirus has affected many countries. Our officials have reported with sincerity and transparency since day one. However, some countries where the outbreak has been more serious have tried to hide it. Of course, we ask God to heal the sick in those countries too.”


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