Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has banned travel to cities with high numbers of coronavirus cases during the Nowruz holiday that starts on March 21, according to the official IRNA News Agency.
The announcement came after the conclusion of the National Committee on Combatting Coronavirus meeting chaired by Rouhani in the capital, Tehran.
Iran’s Health Ministry has classified districts based on the rate of coronavirus infections with red color indicating high risk, orange meaning medium, while yellow implied low risk and blue being the least.
Data by the Health Ministry shows 11 districts identified as red, 32 as orange, while 251 and 154 were marked as yellow and blue, respectively.
The most dangerous areas are concentrated in the southwest of the country, particularly in Khuzestan Province.
Iranian officials are concerned that travels during the Nowruz festival could spark a new wave in the spread of the virus.
Nowruz is an ancestral festivity, which marks the first day of spring and the renewal of nature. Nowruz was inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Culture Heritage of Humanity in 2009 by UNESCO.
The celebration has its roots in ancient Iran. Various myths exists for Nowruz in Iranian mythology.
*Ibrahim Mukhtar in Ankara contributed to this report
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