Advertisement

Coronavirus death toll rises to 107 in Iran as authorities limit travel

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: WHO staff member tests positive for COVID-19 in Iran' Coronavirus outbreak: WHO staff member tests positive for COVID-19 in Iran
WATCH: WHO staff member tests positive for COVID-19 in Iran – Mar 2, 2020

Iran says the new coronavirus has killed 107 people amid 3,513 confirmed cases across the Islamic Republic.

Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour made the announcement Thursday at a televised news conference.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — A spokesman for the Palestinian tourism ministry says the storied Nativity Church in the biblical city of Bethlehem will close indefinitely later in the day over coronavirus fears.

READ MORE: ‘Pre-pandemic mode’: How Canadian long-term care homes are preparing for coronavirus

Jeres Qumsiyeh said the church, built atop the spot where Christians believe Jesus was born, will close at 4 p.m. Thursday after being disinfected.

Story continues below advertisement

“We have informed that the Nativity Church will be closed today at 4 p.m. until further notice,” he said.

The church is expected to draw tens of thousands of visitors and worshipers for the upcoming Easter holiday next month.

Click to play video: 'Health officials confirm 9th case of COVID-19 in B.C.' Health officials confirm 9th case of COVID-19 in B.C.
Health officials confirm 9th case of COVID-19 in B.C – Mar 3, 2020

Iran’s health minister on Thursday encouraged the public to reduce its use of paper money as it is aiding the spread of the new coronavirus, and said authorities will begin manning checkpoints to limit travel between major cities in the Islamic Republic.

Saeed Namaki made the announcement at a televised news conference. He added that schools and universities will remain closed through Nowruz, the Persian New Year, on March 20.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: What if your employer asks you to self-quarantine?

Story continues below advertisement

He said people should stay in their vehicles at gas stations and allow attendants to fill their gas tanks to avoid the spread of the virus.

There are now over 3,150 cases of the virus across the Mideast. Of those outside Iran in the region, most link back to the Islamic Republic. There, authorities say the virus has killed at least 92 people amid 2,922 confirmed cases. Iran and Italy have the world’s highest death tolls outside of China.

Earlier Thursday, the United Arab Emirates warned its citizens and its foreign residents not to travel anywhere abroad amid the ongoing worldwide coronavirus outbreak, a stark warning for a country home to two major long-haul airlines.

Click to play video: 'Ontario announces additional cases of COVID-19, bringing provincial total to 18' Ontario announces additional cases of COVID-19, bringing provincial total to 18
Ontario announces additional cases of COVID-19, bringing provincial total to 18 – Mar 2, 2020

The country’s Health and Community Protection Ministry warning comes as its capital, Abu Dhabi, sent 215 foreigners it evacuated from hard-hit Hubei in China to a quarantine set up in its Emirates Humanitarian City. They include citizens of Egypt, Sudan and Yemen.

Story continues below advertisement

Health officials warned that those traveling abroad could face quarantine themselves at the discretion of authorities. The UAE is home to some 9 million people, with only about 1 million estimated to be Emirati citizens.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Freeland says financial help a possibility to ease COVID-19 burden

The UAE is home to Emirates, the government-owned airline based at Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest for international travel. Abu Dhabi also is home to Etihad, the country’s national carrier. Both airlines have encouraged staff to take time off as international travel has dropped due to the virus.

The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted Islamic worship in the Middle East, as Saudi Arabia on Wednesday banned its citizens and other residents of the kingdom from performing the pilgrimage in Mecca, while Iran canceled Friday prayers in major cities.

Sponsored content