On Wednesday, February 26, Iran’s National Headquarters to Fight Coronavirus announced: “for a period of time, Friday Prayers will not be held in the cities that have been identified as infected.” The announcement followed another statement by Tehran’s Friday Prayers Headquarters, which said that, with the approval of Tehran Emergency Services and the Ministry of Health, this week’s Friday Prayers will take place as usual.
Since then, the Friday Imams Council has ordered the Friday Prayers headquarters in Tehran and a number of other cities to cancel prayers scheduled for February 28.
On February 27, the Iranian government announced that 245 cases of coronavirus have been identified in Iran and 26 people are known to have died. According to the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), coronavirus has spread to 20 out of 31 Iranian provinces. It reported that 54 of those infected have now recovered.
Critics say that government figures have likely understated the spread of the virus because there are not enough laboratories carrying out the tests or test kits available in Iran.
Some members of Iran’s parliament have asked for Tehran and Qom to be quarantined, but the country’s National Headquarters to Fight Coronavirus announced that, instead imposing a quarantine, it would impose a number of restrictions on activities in big cities. The headquarters was created by order of President Rouhani and all executive agencies are obliged to obey its orders.
On February 27, President Rouhani approved decisions taken by the Headquarters to Fight Coronavirus the day before.
Masoumeh Ebtekar, Vice President for Women and Family Affairs has tested positive for coronavirus. Ebtekar is also known in the West as “Sister Mary” because of her role as spokesperson for the students who occupied the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.
“Ms. Ebtekar is now confined to bed at home until her illness is over,” said Fariba Ebtehaj, Ebtekar’s spokesperson. “Considering that the members of the team who had accompanied Ebtekar might have been contaminated as well, they will all be tested and the results will be announced on Saturday.”
Mojtaba Zolnoor, member of the parliament from Qom and chairman of the parliament’s National Security Committee, confirmed in a Instagram post that he has tested positive for the virus. Iran’s holy city of Qom is where Iran’s coronavirus outbreak began, and Zolnoor is the second member of the parliament who has tested positive for the virus.