Iran reports record 162 COVID-19 single-day death toll

A pedestrian wearing a protective mask due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, walks along a street in the Iranian capital Tehran on June 28, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 29 June 2020

Iran reports record 162 COVID-19 single-day death toll

  • "This increase in numbers is in fact a reflection of our overall performance," a health ministry spokeswoman said

TEHRAN: Iran reported on Monday 162 more deaths from the novel coronavirus, the highest single-day toll since the country's outbreak began in February.
"This increase in numbers is in fact a reflection of our overall performance, both in terms of reopening and in compliance with health protocols," health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said at a news conference.
The previous record daily toll of 158 deaths was reported by health authorities in early April.
Official figures have shown an upward trajectory in new confirmed cases since early May, when Iran hit a near two-month low in daily recorded infections.
Iran reported its first COVID-19 cases on February 19 and it has since struggled to contain the outbreak, the deadliest in the Middle East.
Lari announced an additional 2,536 new cases on Monday, bringing the total to 225,205. The overall official death toll is now at 10,670
Iranian authorities have refrained from enforcing full lockdowns to stop the pandemic's spread and the use of masks and protective equipment has been optional in most areas.
Iran closed schools, cancelled public events and banned movement between its 31 provinces in March, but the government progressively lifted restrictions from April to try to reopen its sanctions-hit economy.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday that "momentum and effort has waned among some of the people and authorities" to combat the virus, warning the country's economic problems would worsen if the disease spreads unchecked.
Authorities launched a campaign over the weekend to encourage people to wear masks and decreed mandatory mask-wearing "in covered spaces where there are gatherings" from Saturday, the beginning of the week in Iran.
The increasing virus caseload has seen some previously unscathed provinces classified as "red" -- the highest level on Iran's colour-coded risk scale -- with authorities allowing them to reimpose restrictive measures if required.
According to Lari, the provinces of Khuzestan, Hormozgan, Kurdistan, Kermanshah, Boushehr, West and East Azerbaijan and Khorasan Razavi are classified as "red".
The provinces of Ilam, Lorestan and Golestan are on alert, she added.

Arab ministers warn of oil spill disasters in the Red Sea

Updated 4 min 3 sec ago

Arab ministers warn of oil spill disasters in the Red Sea

  • The session was held at Saudi Arabia’s request to discuss ways of avoiding a disaster in the Red Sea

Arab ministers have warned of oil spill disasters in the Red Sea and called on international and regional bodies to maintain maritime security in the area.

An Arab League video conference session on Monday brought together ministers responsible for environmental affairs.

The session was held at Saudi Arabia’s request to discuss ways of avoiding a disaster in the Red Sea because of an oil tanker that has been anchored off Yemen’s Ras Isa port since 2015.

The Houthis have prevented international engineers from boarding the vessel to carry out essential repairs and there are fears that the oil it contains will start to seep out as the tanker’s condition deteriorates.

Ambassador Kamal Hassan Ali, assistant secretary-general and head of the economic affairs sector at the Arab League, said that the meeting concluded with foreign ministers being requested to take political action as the oil disaster threat was a matter of politics and security.

The meeting also requested that the league’s general secretariat communicate with the regional and international bodies of countries bordering the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden to preserve the environment and provide technical support in order to submit a report on spillage risks.

Hassan said that finding an appropriate solution to avoid an environmental catastrophe was of major regional and global importance because the scale of such a disaster would threaten marine life, biodiversity, international shipping lines and ports in that location.

He said that the region was facing major challenges that demanded solidarity and unity in all fields, including the environment.

Environmental challenges did not respect borders, he added, and maintaining a healthy environment for the region was a collective issue that required joint effort through plans and strategies adhering to local, regional and international agreements and laws.

Hassan regarded the participation of Arab ministers responsible for environmental affairs in the session as evidence of the importance that regional environmental security held for them, their countries and the region in terms of stability and people’s well-being.

He emphasized the close link between the environment and development, which had led to the emergence of the concept of sustainable development.

The preservation of oceans, seas, marine resources and their sustainable use was one of the most important development goals, he said.