Iran reports 54 new coronavirus deaths, highest one-day toll

Mourners wearing face masks and gloves perform funeral prayer for the person who died on Monday after being infected with the new coronavirus in Tehran on March 10, 2020. (Tasnim News Agency via AP)
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Updated 10 March 2020

Iran reports 54 new coronavirus deaths, highest one-day toll

  • Death toll from coronavirus in Iran has risen to 291
  • Iran’s fatalities include several politicians and government officials

TEHRAN: Iran on Tuesday reported 54 new deaths from the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the highest single-day toll since the start of the country’s outbreak.
The latest deaths bring the number of those killed by the virus in the Islamic republic to 291, the health ministry’s spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said in a televised conference.
He added that 881 new cases had been confirmed, bringing the total number of people infected to an official 8,042.
But “2,731 people, which is about 10 times the number of dear countrymen we’ve lost, have recovered and been discharged from hospitals,” Jahanpour said.
The outbreak of the virus in Iran is one of the deadliest outside China, where the disease originated.
With 2,114 cases, the capital Tehran remains the worst-hit province.
The northern province of Mazandaran climbed to second place with 253 new cases, bringing the total there to 886, followed by 751 in Qom, the Shiite pilgrimage city south of Tehran where the country’s first cases were reported.
Mazandaran is a popular tourist spot bordering the Caspian Sea, and is particularly popular during holidays for the Iranian New Year, which this year starts on March 20.
Iran is yet to officially impose quarantines but authorities have repeatedly called on people to refrain from traveling and have resorted to closing hotels and other accommodation to discourage travel.
“As we said and expected in recent days, Mazandaran has almost reached the top of the chart” in terms of infections and is second only to Tehran, Jahanpour said.
“Our warnings against traveling to Mazandaran may be more understandable today,” he added.
Iran’s fatalities include several politicians and government officials, as well as some hospital staff.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei agreed on Tuesday to designate hospital staff who died after contracting the virus as “martyrs,” following a suggestion by the health minister, according to the official IRNA news agency.
In the Islamic republic, the families of those designated martyrs usually receive financial aid and other benefits from the state.
The supreme leader also canceled his annual speech in Mashhad city to mark the Persian new year due to concerns about the virus outbreak and health authorities’ calls “to avoid gatherings and travel.”
According to health ministry figures, 222 people have been infected by the virus in the Khorasan Razavi province, where Mashhad is located.
Apart from direct fatalities, 44 people have died from methanol poisoning in Iran after rumors that drinking alcohol could help cure or protect from the disease.


US bans Pakistan’s PIA over pilot license scandal

Updated 10 July 2020

US bans Pakistan’s PIA over pilot license scandal

  • Follows a similar move by European Union aviation regulators to bar the state-run carrier for six months

KARACHI: The United States has banned Pakistan International Airlines from operating chartered flights to the country, the airline said, after it announced nearly 150 pilots would be grounded over fake or dubious licenses.
It follows a similar move by European Union aviation regulators to bar the state-run carrier for six months.
PIA said in a statement that the Federal Aviation Authority in the US had revoked approval for the airline due to “recent events identified by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority that are of serious concern to aviation safety.”
Pakistan’s aviation minister revealed in June that a government review had found around 260 of the country’s 860 active pilots hold fake licenses or cheated on exams.
PIA at the time said it would immediately ground about a third of its 434 pilots, just weeks after one of its planes crashed in Karachi killing 98 people — an accident blamed on pilot error.
So far 17 pilots have been fired in the first phase of its investigation, a PIA spokesman said.
The airline had suspended its commercial operations to the US in 2017 after booking financial losses on the route.
But in April the US Department of Transport granted it special permission to operate chartered flights for one year, largely to bring back stranded Pakistanis during the coronavirus lockdown.
Until the 1970s, Pakistan’s largest airline was considered a top regional carrier but its reputation plummeted amid chronic mismanagement, frequent cancelations and financial struggles.