Iran warns it could use 'force' to halt travel amid virus

Iran warns it could use 'force' to halt travel amid virus
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Authorities in Iran warned against travel between cities, claiming they may use "force" to limit civilian travel throughout the country amid the global coronavirus outbreak. 

Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour did not explain the details on the threat of force, but confirmed the virus is now in all of Iran's 31 provinces, with 124 dead and 4,747 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to The Associated Press.

The threat comes amid concerns that people could be using the closure of schools and universities as a justification to make impromptu trips to various vacation spots throughout the country, according to the report.

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Authorities have warned against travel to prevent further spread of the virus.

Semi-official news sources in Iran posted images of long traffic lines as people tried to reach the Caspian coast from Tehran on Friday. Iran announced on Thursday that checkpoints would be placed to limit travel between cities.

On Friday, Iran canceled prayers throughout major cities. 

More than 4,990 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed throughout the Middle East. Iran and Italy have the highest death tolls of any country outside of mainland China, where the outbreak originated.