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Iran suspends all surgery over millennium bug fears

TEHRAN, Iran, December 29, 1999 (AFP) - Iranian surgeons have been asked not to carry out any operations during the night of December 31 for fear of problems caused by the millennium computer bug, a newspaper reported Wednesday. The health ministry decision has been sent to all hospitals, the Resalaat paper said.

Iran has already set up a crisis centre to deal with possible problems caused by the bug in essential computer systems.

Authorities have reassured the public that the government has taken the necessary precautions, especially at airports, power stations, refineries and in the telecommunications and banking sectors.

Iran's civil aviation authorities announced Tuesday that Iranian airspace will be closed for nine hours on the night of December 31, and the national airline Iran Air announced it will not be flying over the New Year.

The government has made January 1 a public holiday in case of bug problems.

The millennium or Y2K bug affects older computer hardware and software which read dates using only the last two digits of the year.

When the year changes from 1999 to 2000, systems may shut down or malfunction because they read the new date as 1900.