Parts of Iran affected by the novel coronavirus have cancelled Friday prayers on the health ministry's advice, a decision made only in exceptional circumstances.
Iran is the worst affected country in the Middle East, with a significant cluster of infections and deaths in the province of Qom, which hosts several religious sites visited by local and foreign tourists.
Iran’s Health Minister Saeed Namaki announced the cancelations on Wednesday, state news agency IRNA reported.
Congregational Friday prayers are a mainstay of public life in Iran.
Across the Middle East, governments have been struggling to cope with the spread of the coronavirus. Iraq, for example, has closed schools, public offices and other public gatherings until March 7.