Iran coronavirus death toll tops 9,500

Nurses work in a COVID-19 ward in Tehran. (AP)
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Updated 20 June 2020

Iran coronavirus death toll tops 9,500

  • The virus has claimed 115 Iranian lives in the last 24 hours
  • Iran has experienced the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East

TEHRAN: Iranian health authorities Saturday announced more than 100 new deaths from coronavirus and another 2,000 cases of the illness, as the country’s fight against the pandemic entered its fifth month.
Iran reported its first coronavirus cases on February 19, and it has since struggled to contain the outbreak, the worst in the Middle East.
The Islamic republic’s official figures have shown an upward trajectory in new cases of infection since early May.
Health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said there were 115 fatalities in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s death toll to 9,507.
There were also 2,322 new cases of infection, with the total number of confirmed cases now at 202,584, she added.
There has been skepticism at home and abroad about Iran’s official figures, with concerns the real toll could be much higher.
President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday warned that stress created by the disease could leave people “depressed.”
He called on experts and artists to prepare Iranians mentally “to fight the virus for a long time.”
“Without perseverance and continuity, we risk losing all our gains,” he said during a meeting of a taskforce set up to fight the pandemic.
Rouhani also confirmed his government’s decision to allow provinces to make their own decisions on restrictive measures, implemented with “the president’s approval.”
Seven of Iran’s 31 provinces — Khuzestan, Khorasan Razavi, Kermanshah, West and East Azerbaijan, Golestan and Kurdistan — are currently “red,” the highest level on its color-coded risk scale, Lari said.


France calls on Lebanon to form government ‘without delay’

Updated 23 September 2020

France calls on Lebanon to form government ‘without delay’

  • France is pressing Lebanese politicians to form a new government
  • Political class blamed for massive explosion that devastated Beirut last month

PARIS: France's foreign ministry on Tuesday warned Lebanon's political forces that the country risked collapse if they did not form a government without delay.
"At this decisive moment in Lebanese history, Lebanese political forces are faced with a choice between recovery and collapse of the country. It is a heavy responsibility towards the Lebanese," foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Mühll told reporters in a daily briefing.
France is pressing Lebanese politicians to form a new government in a "reasonable timeframe" to lift the nation out of a deep crisis but has not fixed a new deadline after the last one in mid-September was missed, two French diplomatic sources said.
Lebanon's Christian president, Michel Aoun, told fractious political leaders on Monday the country was heading "to hell" if a new cabinet was not formed swiftly to dig the nation out of its worst crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
"France regrets that Lebanese officials have not yet managed to keep the commitments made on Sept. 1," Von der Mühll said. "We call on them to reach an agreement without delay on the formation by (Prime Minister) Moustapha Adib of a government of mission, which will then have to implement the necessary reforms."