Iran reports largest spike in coronavirus fatalities as 147 more die

Iranian health officials have urged the public to avoid travel and crowded places, but many seem to be ignoring the warnings. (AP)
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Updated 18 March 2020

Iran reports largest spike in coronavirus fatalities as 147 more die

  • The rise in deaths comes as the number of cases continues to grow each day
  • ealth officials have urged the public to avoid travel and crowded places

TEHRAN: Iran reported its single biggest jump in deaths from the new coronavirus on Wednesday, saying that another 147 had died in a nearly 15 percent spike that raises the death toll to 1,135 people nationwide.
It marks the biggest 24-hour rise in deaths since officials first acknowledged cases of the virus in Iran in mid-February.
The rise in deaths comes as the number of cases continues to grow each day, with some 17,361 people having been infection nationwide, according to a briefing Wednesday by Iran’s deputy health minister, Alireza Raisi.
The outbreak has cast a shadow over the Persian New Year, Nowruz, a normally joyous holiday that begins on Friday. Health officials have urged the public to avoid travel and crowded places. But many seem to be ignoring the warnings, raising the risk of further outbreaks.
Some food markets in the capital, Tehran, were still packed on Wednesday, and highways were crowded with traffic as families traveled between cities. Iran also announced it would close mosques for communal Friday prayers for a third consecutive week.
Raisi criticized people for not adhering to the warnings, saying on national television the virus is very serious. “This is not a good situation at all,” he said as he implored people to stay home.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday defended his government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak in the face of of widespread criticism that officials acted too slowly and may have even covered up initial cases before infections rapidly spread across the country.
In a speech to his Cabinet, Rouhani said the government was “straightforward” with the nation, saying it announced the outbreak as soon as it learned about it on Feb. 19.
“We spoke to people in an honest way. We had no delay,” he added.
The government has come under heavy criticism for what has been seen as a slow and inadequate response. For weeks, government officials implored clerics to shut down crowded holy shrines to stymie the spread of the virus. The government finally closed the shrines this week.
“It was difficult of course to shut down mosques and holy sites, but we did it. It was a religious duty to do it,” Rouhani said.


Turkish minister in Libya for defense cooperation talks

Updated 03 July 2020

Turkish minister in Libya for defense cooperation talks

  • Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Chief of General Staff Yasar Guler discussed “military and security cooperation” with the head of the GNA
  • The visit comes a month after GNA forces declared they were back in full control of Tripoli and its suburbs

TRIPOLI: Turkey’s defense minister and military chief visited war-torn Libya’s capital on Friday, the country’s Government of National Accord (GNA) said, the second visit in weeks by a minister from its main international backer.
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Chief of General Staff Yasar Guler discussed “military and security cooperation” with the head of the GNA Fayez Al-Sarraj and military officials, the government said.
The visit comes a month after GNA forces declared they were back in full control of Tripoli and its suburbs following a year-long offensive by eastern military strongman Khalifa Haftar to seize the capital.
On June 17, Turkeys’ foreign and finance ministers Mevlut Cavusoglu and Berat Albayrak, along with intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, visited Tripoli for talks with Sarraj.
Friday’s talks covered defense and security training programs under a deal signed by Tripoli and Ankara in November last year, a statement said.
“Turkish support for (the GNA) continues in the areas of military and security cooperation,” said GNA deputy defense minister Salah Namrush.
Libya has been torn apart by bloodshed since the NATO-backed uprising which toppled the regime of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi, with two rival administrations now vying for power and control of the country’s vast oil wealth.