DUBAI, Mar 20 (Reuters) – Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who made a television address for the Persian New Year, praised the Iranians for their “dazzling” sacrifices to combat the nation’s coronavirus epidemic most hit by the pathogen in the Middle East.
Khamenei, Iran’s highest authority, said this has been a turbulent year for the Iranians, who have endured US sanctions, floods and the emergence of the Covid-19 virus, which has caused more than 1,400 deaths in the nation and has about 20,000 infected.
“These acts of sacrifice were made by medical groups, doctors, nurses, assistants, managers and staff who work in hospitals,” said Khamenei, who appeared to be healthy despite rumors that he had been infected with the coronavirus.
Officials close to Khamenei, contacted by Reuters on Wednesday, denied those speculations.
Nowruz, or the Persian New Year, is an ancient and extremely important celebration in Iran’s calendar, when families gather and exchange gifts. But the coronavirus epidemic has overshadowed these commemorations.
Millions of Iranians are confined to their homes in the middle of the Persian New Year. But police said many people have ignored health officials’ warnings and headed for the Caspian Sea coast, one of the favorite destinations to spend the holiday.
(Written by Parisa Hafezi. Edited in Spanish by Marion Giraldo)