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.


Turkey: pilots, others, on trial for helping former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn escape

Updated 03 July 2020

Turkey: pilots, others, on trial for helping former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn escape

  • Carlos Ghosn, who was arrested over financial misconduct allegations in Tokyo in 2018, skipped bail while awaiting trial late last year

ISTANBUL: A private airline official, four pilots and two flights attendants went on trial in Istanbul on Friday, accused of smuggling former Nissan Motor Co. chairman Carlos Ghosn out of Japan to Lebanon, via Turkey.
Turkish prosecutors are seeking up to eight years in prison each for the four pilots and the airline official on charges of illegally smuggling a migrant, for helping Ghosn escape to Lebanon while he awaited trial in Japan. The two flight attendants face a one-year prison term each if convicted of not reporting a crime.
Ghosn, who was arrested over financial misconduct allegations in Tokyo in 2018, skipped bail while awaiting trial late last year. He was flown to Istanbul and was then transferred onto another plane bound for Beirut, where he arrived Dec. 30. He is believed to have been smuggled inside a large box.
The Turkish airline company MNG Jet said in January that two of its planes were used illegally in Ghosn’s escape, first flying him from Osaka, Japan, to Istanbul, and then on to Beirut. The company said its employee had admitted to falsifying flight records so that Ghosn’s name did not appear on them.
The indictment against the defendants states that Ghosn is believed to have been smuggled inside a “foam-covered music box” large enough to carry a person. It notes a 216,000-euro and $66,000 increase in the airline official’s bank accounts between Oct. 16 and Dec. 26, 2019.
The four pilots and the two flight attendants have denied involvement in the plans to smuggle Ghosn. They also denied knowing that the former Nissan chief was aboard the flights.
The company employee and four pilots are jailed while the flight attendants have been released pending the outcome of the trial.
Separately, a former US Green Beret and his son were also arrested in the United States on charges that they helped smuggle Ghosn out of Japan.
Ghosn, who has Lebanese citizenship, said he fled because he could not expect a fair trial in Japan. Lebanon has no extradition treaty with Japan.