First coronavirus death, 1,102 cases among Qatar’s World Cup workforce

Construction at infrastructure to stage the tournament continued through the crisis even as Qatar halted non-essential retail and mosques, parks and restaurants closed. (File/AFP)
Updated 25 June 2020

First coronavirus death, 1,102 cases among Qatar’s World Cup workforce

  • There are 121 active coronavirus cases
  • The victim was an engineer in his fifties with no underlying medical conditions

DOHA: World Cup organizers in Qatar reported the first coronavirus death of a worker involved in construction of 2022 tournament venues on Thursday.
A source close to the Qatari tournament organizers told AFP that 1,102 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed among workers at tournament projects with 121 infections still active.
First reported by the newly relaunched Doha News, a site popular among expatriates in Qatar, the victim was an engineer in his fifties who had no underlying medical conditions.
Qatar has one of the highest per capita infection rates in the world with 3.3 percent of its 2.75 million population having tested positive.
Most have since recovered with only 17,591 active cases reported in the latest official statistics alongside 104 deaths.
“Sadly, on June 11, 2020, a 51-year-old specialist engineer employed by the contractor Conspel, tragically died after contracting COVID-19,” the Qatari organization responsible for organizing the 2022 tournament said in a statement.
“He had worked on Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy projects since October 2019 and had no underlying health issues. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”
His nationality was not disclosed.
The Qatari organizers reported the first infections among its workforce on April 15 with five cases across three stadium projects.
Work continues at 2022 sites but has slowed to allow virus containment measures including screening and social distancing to be observed with Qatari officials saying preparations are nevertheless more than 80 percent complete.
Organizers have removed all high-risk workers from projects on full pay, undertake temperature checks on workers twice daily, and imposed distancing rules in dining halls and staff transport to limit the virus’ spread.
Construction at infrastructure to stage the tournament continued through the crisis even as Qatar halted non-essential retail and mosques, parks and restaurants closed.
Qatar has begun a cautious reopening program with socially distanced worship permitted in some Mosques and non-essential retail permitted.
Cafes and restaurants are due to reopen subject to strict controls from July 1.
The timings of the competition, due to be held in November and December of 2022, remain unchanged by the coronavirus pandemic which has already forced the postponement of the European football championships and the Tokyo Olympics.
Both will now take place in 2021.


Iraq’s foreign minister makes first visit to Iran

Updated 26 September 2020

Iraq’s foreign minister makes first visit to Iran

  • Iran sees neighboring Iraq as a possible route to bypass US sanctions that President Donald Trump re-imposed in 2018

TEHRAN: Iraq’s foreign minister arrived Saturday in Tehran for bilateral talks with senior Iranian officials, according to the state-run news agency.
IRNA reported that Fuad Hussein planned to meet his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani, in what marked his first visit to the Iranian capital.
Zarif visited Baghdad in mid-July, when he met with Hussein and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. It was Zarif’s first visit to Iraq since a US airstrike in January killed a top Iranian general, Qassim Soleimani, outside Baghdad’s international airport. The strike catapulted Iraq to the brink of a US-Iran proxy war that could have destabilized the Middle East.
After Zarif’s trip, the Iraqi premier visited Iran in July.
The report did not elaborate on the main reasons behind the top Iraqi diplomat’s two-day trip to Tehran.
Iran sees neighboring Iraq as a possible route to bypass US sanctions that President Donald Trump re-imposed in 2018 after pulling the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
Last year, Iran’s exports to Iraq amounted to nearly $9 billion, the official IRNA news agency reported on Tuesday. It said the two nations will discuss increasing the amount to $20 billion.
Before the current global pandemic, some 5 million Iranian pilgrims annually brought in nearly $5 billion visiting Iraq’s Shiite holy sites.
Iran has seen the worst outbreak in the region, with more than 443,000 thousand confirmed cases and at least 25,300 deaths.
A news website affiliated with Iranian state TV, yjc.ir, reported that Iran canceled all its flights to Iraqi cities until the religious holiday of Arbaeen, due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. The holiday marks the end of the forty days of mourning that follow annually on the death anniversary of the seventh-century Muslim leader Hussein, who was killed at the Battle of Karbala during the tumultuous first century of Islam’s history.
Iran fought an eight-year war with Iraq that killed nearly 1 million people on both sides, after former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded in the early 1980s.