TEHRAN, March 3 (Xinhua) -- The Iranian health minister on Wednesday called on people to refrain from travelling during the two-week holiday of the Iranian New Year starting March 21 given the COVID-19 epidemic.
"Despite the fatigue and the heavy constraints they have endured during the past year, people should still have patience," Saeed Namaki said in an interview with state TV.
Travelling during this year's Nowruz holiday may actually be even "more dangerous" than last year since Iran is now dealing with a mutated variant of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus, the minister noted.
In normal years, millions of Iranians travel to touristic places or some relatives' place of residence around the country during the nearly two weeks period of the holiday starting on the first day of the Iranian New Year, Nowruz.
Also on Wednesday, Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman for Iran's Health Ministry, said 8,525 new COVID-19 cases were detected in the past 24 hours, raising the country's overall count to 1,656,699, according to the ministry's official website.
Of the newly infected, 764 patients had to be hospitalized, Lari added.
Between Tuesday and Wednesday, 86 new deaths related to the coronavirus were registered in Iran, taking the death toll from the virus to 60,353.
It is worth noting that 11 Iranian counties in the southwestern province of Khuzestan are still on red alert for a high risk of infection, the spokewoman said.
Iran announced its first cases of COVID-19 on Feb. 19, 2020. Enditem