Iran ‘hides 500,000 virus cases,’ says member country’s anti-virus taskforce

Iran’s coronavirus death toll rose to 3,872 with 133 deaths in the past 24 hours. (AP)
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Updated 08 April 2020

Iran ‘hides 500,000 virus cases,’ says member country’s anti-virus taskforce

  • Total number of cases climbed to 62,589, with 2,089 new infections

JEDDAH: Iran is covering up the full extent of the coronavirus pandemic, a member of the country’s own anti-virus task force admitted on Tuesday.

Authorities in Tehran say the number of virus infections is just over 62,000, with a death toll of 3,872. In fact, the true number of cases is “around 500,000,” said Hamid Souri of the National Coronavirus Combat Taskforce.

The regional spread of the pandemic began in Iran, mostly by pilgrims returning from shrine cities such as Qom after the regime was slow to impose restrictions on movement. Doctors and several members of the Iranian parliament have said before that the numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths are much higher than official figures suggest.

The regime claimed on Tuesday that about 70 million Iranians from a population of 83 million had now been screened for the virus. It is impossible to verify that figure, but experts say it is unlikely.

Worldwide, the number of people infected by the virus was approaching 1.4 million, and nearly 80,000 have died.

In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has been suffering virus symptoms for nearly two weeks, remained in intensive care after being taken to hospital on Sunday night when his condition worsened.

“He remained stable overnight. He’s receiving standard oxygen treatment and breathing without any assistance. He has not required any mechanical ventilation or non-invasive respiratory support,” said Dominic Raab, the foreign minister, who is standing in for Johnson.

“I’m confident that he’ll pull through because, if there’s one thing I know about this prime minister, he’s a fighter,” Raab said.

In the US, the country worst hit by the pandemic, the death toll in New York state rose by 731 to 5,489. Nevertheless, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the number of people being treated in hospital was reaching a plateau, and he was working with governors in New Jersey and Connecticut on a plan to restart life once the crisis subsides.

Cuomo said the closures of businesses and schools and other social distancing measures were having the intended impact and urged continued compliance. “Our behavior affects the number of cases,” he said. “They are not descending on us from heaven.”

There were also glimmers of hope elsewhere that the virus was reaching its peak.

Spain said the downward trend in new infections and deaths was continuing, and increases in fatalities on Monday and Tuesday were the result of weekend deaths being added together; and for the first time there were no new deaths reported in China.


Sudan calls on UN to urge Ethiopia, Egypt not to take unilateral measures on Renaissance Dam

Updated 4 min 4 sec ago

Sudan calls on UN to urge Ethiopia, Egypt not to take unilateral measures on Renaissance Dam

  • Sudan is arranging to continue its bilateral meetings with the Egyptian and Ethiopian ministers to start negotiations

DUBAI: Sudan called on the United Nations Security Council to urge Ethiopia and Egypt to refrain from taking any unilateral measures regarding the Renaissance Dam, the state news agency SUNA reported on Wednesday. 
The Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, Yasser Abbas, said the memorandum submitted by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Asma Abdalla, to the Security Council was a statement of “Sudan’s inherent right to this important file.” 
Abbas said the letter asked the Security Council to urge all parties to refrain from taking any unilateral measures that may affect regional and international peace and security.
He said Sudan was arranging to continue its bilateral meetings with the Egyptian and Ethiopian ministers to start negotiations on the Renaissance Dam, which has been stalled since last February.
He said the video conference meetings would be held with each delegation separately. 
In the letter sent to the Security Council, Abdalla said Sudan was keen to resume the tripartite Renaissance Dam negotiations with Egypt and Ethiopia.
Abdalla, who became Sudan’s first female Minister of Foreign Affairs last year in the transitional cabinet of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, said her country was ready “to reach a comprehensive and satisfactory settlement.”