Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday ordered the postponement of the parliamentary elections as part of the preventive measures against the novel coronavirus, according to the state news agency SANA.

The elections were delayed to May 20 after they were initially due to be held in Syria on April 13, 2020. Syria's parliamentary elections occur every four years, with the last held in 2016.

A day earlier, the Syrian government suspended schools and universities until early April.

The government will also minimize the number of active state employees during the same period.

The measures were taken in the wake of the outbreak of COVID-19 in neighboring countries. So far, Syria has not reported any case of COVID-19 infection.