Iran called people to spend Nowruz, the country’s new year ceremony, in their homes this year amid mounting losses due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Abbas Salehi implored people to take the precaution in order to prevent a “national disaster” due to the spreading virus.

Citing official data, Salehi said 66% of the country’s population went on vacation during the Nowruz holiday last year.

There will be a national disaster in the country if even half of this figure travels this spring, he said, adding: “Let’s stay at home.”

Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki

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