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

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.

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.

“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.

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.

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.

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