Iran recorded the highest single-day cases of coronavirus on Tuesday since the outbreak almost eight months ago, as a third wave of the pandemic grips the country.

Health Ministry spokesperson Sima Sadat Lari said that 3712 fresh cases and 178 fatalities were registered in the past 24 hours.

It marked the highest single-day jump in virus cases since February 19, when the first two cases of the novel coronavirus were identified in the city of Qom, 140 km south of Tehran.

The previous highest single-day COVID-19 cases (3,574) were reported on June 4 in the middle of the second wave of the pandemic in Iran.

The overall tally of infections has now reached 429,193 with death toll mounting to 24,656.

In recent weeks, Iran, one of the first countries in the region to battle the pandemic, has seen a significant surge in new infections and fatalities. 

The majority of cases have been reported from Tehran, where all restrictions have been gradually eased, drawing criticism from health activists.

Health Minister Saeed Namaki, expressing concern over the fresh spike in virus cases, said Iran was in the grip of a third wave after managing to overcome first two waves.

Talking to reporters on Tuesday, Namaki said Iran “will not be able to fight the vicious virus” unless the people comply with health advisories.

Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi said the new wave is characterized by “high intra-family transmission”, warning of the genetic mutation of the virus.

Earlier on Thursday, Harirchi said all parts of the country should be deemed “red zones” now.

“We no longer have orange and yellow (zones),” he told reporters, referring to categorization on the basis of perceived COVID-19 threat. “The whole country is in a state of red.”

Alireza Zali, who heads the anti-virus task-force in Tehran, also confirmed the third wave, which he said was different from the previous two waves.

According to Zali, the number of hospitalizations has increased under the third wave, fearing that the admissions in intensive care units (ICUs) might see an increase in coming weeks.

Health ministry officials blame the fresh spike in the virus cases on out-station trips in last few weeks, as Iranians normally enjoy travelling in the month of September before winter kicks in./aa


US journalist Andre Vltchek was found dead in a rented car on Tuesday shortly after arriving in Turkey’s Istanbul province, according to Turkish security sources.

Approaching a hotel in the Karakoy district, coming from the Samsun province by car with a hired driver at the wheel, Rossie Indira Vltchek noticed that her husband Andre Vltchek was not moving.

It was then that she called for emergency medics, who confirmed that Andre Vltchek had died, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Istanbul prosecutors have launched an investigation into his death.

Vltchek, a naturalized Soviet-born US journalist, covered dozens of war zones and conflicts from Iraq and Peru to Sri Lanka, Bosnia, Rwanda, Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and East Timor, according to his official website./aa


Any possible COVID-19 vaccine must be made available for all people without any discrimination, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.

“A COVID-19 vaccine must be considered a global public good,” Duterte told the ongoing 75th General Assembly, held virtually due to the pandemic.

On tensions over the South China Sea, Korean Peninsula, and Middle East, Duterte urged all parties against hate.

“If we can’t be friends, let us not hate each other too much,” he said.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, he said, “geo-political tensions continue to rise,” mostly impacting smaller nations.

“When elephants fight, it is the grass that is trampled,” he said.

Duterte also urged the member states to forge “stronger cooperation” on the issue of migrants.

“We need stronger cooperation on safeguarding rights of migrants amid COVID-19,” he asserted.

“COVID-19 is the biggest test of the world that the United Nations has faced since World War II.”/aa


A 1,800-year-old Lydian era atonement inscription is preparing Tuesday to return to Turkey, where it was smuggled and later found in Italy.

The inscription depicts the regret of parents whose two sons committed theft and will be transported via a Turkish Airlines flight and arrive in Turkey by midnight Tuesday.

The historical inscription will be displayed at the Anatolian Civilizations Museum in Ankara.

It was seized in 1997 during a raid by an Italian anti-smuggling unit at an antiques merchant's workplace.

Italian authorities reported the situation to Turkey on suspicion it might belong to the Lydians, an Anatolian civilization.

Turkey's Culture and Tourism Ministry confirmed the inscription was smuggled from the Apollon Aksyros Temple in the ancient city of Saitta in Manisa province.

The ministry launched a long legal battle for the return of the inscription in 1998 and presented evidence that showed it was smuggled from Turkey.

But an Italian court ruled against Turkey in 2012 and Ankara appealed. A decision was suspended in 2013.

The Florence Court of Appeal ruled Nov. 5, 2019, that it belongs to Turkey, setting off a return process to Turkey.

Ankara’s Ambassador to Rome Murat Salim Esenli received the inscription in Florence, Italy on Sept. 19./aa

Armenia is a country where Islamophobia is a state policy, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in an interview to Azerbaijan Television, Ictimai Television, and Real Television following a groundbreaking ceremony of the offshore operations of the Absheron field at the Heydar Aliyev Baku Deep Water Jackets Plant, Trend reports.

'Azerbaijan has always been very active in the way of Islamic solidarity. Many events have been held in our country. We have always tried to help Muslim countries. We have always defended the interests of Muslim countries in international organizations. At the same time, if a Muslim country nominated its candidacy for an international organization, we have always supported it during the voting. That is, this solidarity should be in deed, not in words. We are one of the countries that have always attached great importance to Islamic solidarity in our foreign policy. You can see this in my speeches on foreign policy. One of our main priorities is relations with Muslim countries. Because we are part of the Muslim world. The countries that support us the most at the UN are also Muslim countries. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has always taken the right position on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Many resolutions have been adopted, including one related to the Tovuz provocation. This is why we are always very sensitive to any rapprochement of Muslim countries with Armenia. Because Armenia has occupied our lands,' the head of state said.

At the same time, the Azerbaijani president said, Muslim countries should know that Armenia has committed genocide against Muslim religious sites and cultural genocide in the occupied territories.

'Look at the state of our mosques! Don't people in Muslim countries know that Armenians keep animals, pigs, and cows in our half-destroyed mosques? Isn't this an insult to the Muslim world? Therefore, officials of all Muslim countries should revive these images when shaking hands with an Armenian official whose hands are stained with the blood of the Azerbaijani people. At the same time, I am told that the Armenian foreign minister met with some religious leaders in Egypt. Didn't anyone tell this religious leader that these people have desecrated Muslim mosques, insulted the entire Muslim world? We know for sure that the official representatives of Armenia, while in Europe to win a positive attitude of Europeans towards them, cite as the main argument the fact that they allegedly live in Muslim surroundings. Our three neighbors are Muslim countries. We are people who have preserved Christianity in this region. The Muslim countries in our environment are enemies. Yes, Armenia considers Turkey and Azerbaijan its enemies. But in its relations with Iran it always hypocritically speaks of friendship. How is this possible? What kind of friendship is this? You destroy, demolish, desecrate Muslim mosques, keep cows and pigs there, offend the dignity of Muslims, and then you say let's be friends. I don't understand such a friendship. Both bilaterally and multilaterally, in official speeches, I have repeatedly addressed the leaders of Muslim countries, urging them to take this issue into account,' the head of state said.

'Let me say again that Armenia is not an ordinary country. Armenia is a country where Islamophobia is a state policy. They raise their children in the spirit of hatred for the Muslims. They want to instill this ideology in their children,' the head of state said.

Therefore, the Azerbaijani president said, we will stick to our principled position.

'We will always pay attention to this issue. I want to say to the leaders of all Muslim countries again: Armenia is not your friend. Secondly, what interests can there be in Armenia? It is a failed state. It has only one international name – a failed state. An unsuccessful country. The economy has collapsed, the market is limited, the population is shrinking, and it is not attractive for any investment. It doesn't invest in any country either. This country is a transport dead end. What interests can there be? If such steps are taken in connection with a certain situation, in spite of someone, then this is only regrettable,' Azerbaijani president said./Mena

Thousands of people demonstrated Sunday in Berlin and other German cities, urging the European Union to take in migrants left without shelter after a fire destroyed their biggest camp in Greece.

The mask-clad protesters brandishing posters reading "Leave No One Behind" were joined in the German capital by the aunt of Alan Kurdi, the Syrian boy whose image became a tragic symbol of the 2015 refugee crisis after his body washed up on a Turkish beach.

"I decided to speak up and speak for those who can't speak for themselves... If I can't save my own family, then let's save the others," said Tima Kurdi, urging people to write to politicians to push for action.

"We can't close our eyes and turn our backs and walk away from them. People are people, no matter where we come from," she added.

Sonya Bobrik of the activist group Seebruecke also stressed that "we have space" to take in more than the 1,500 refugees now in Greece that Germany has so far promised to welcome.

Police said around 5,000 people turned up at the Berlin rally. 

Similar gatherings were seen in Cologne, Munich and Leipzig. 

In Paris, around 40 people carrying posters with slogans such as "No One Is Illegal" or "Asylum Is a Human Right" gathered to demand action. 

"The situation in the camps is dire," said protester Nikolai Posner, adding that France is not doing enough to welcome migrants.

Some 12,700 people were left homeless after a ferocious blaze laid waste to their Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos last week.

Since then, roughly 9,000 have been resettled at a new temporary site.

But the destruction of Moria, a notoriously overcrowded and dirty camp, strengthened calls from locals and humanitarian organisations for the migrants to be moved off the island.

Tens of thousands of opposition supporters march in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, with many being detailed by police, as a wave of weekly demonstrations over President Lukashenko's disputed election victory continue.

JUNIPER HILLS, Calif. (AP) — An enormous wildfire that churned through mountains northeast of Los Angeles and into the Mojave Desert was still threatening homes on Monday, but officials said calmer winds could help crews corral the flames.

At 165 square miles (427 square kilometers), the Bobcat Fire is one of the largest ever in Los Angeles County and it has burned for more than two weeks. It's just 15% contained.

Evacuation orders and warnings are in place for thousands of residents in foothill and desert communities, where semi-rural homes and a popular nature sanctuary have burned. No injuries have been reported.

Erratic winds that drove flames into the community of Juniper Hills over the weekend had died down, said U.S. Forest Service fire spokesman Larry Smith.

“It's slightly cooler too, so hopefully that will be a help to firefighters,” Smith said.

Numerous studies in recent years have linked bigger U.S. wildfires to global warming from the burning of coal, oil and gas, especially because climate change has made California much drier. A drier California means plants are more flammable.

Officials said it could be days before teams determine the scope of the destruction in the area about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Firefighters fought back against another flareup near Mount Wilson, which overlooks greater Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Mountains and has a historic observatory founded more than a century ago and numerous broadcast antennas serving Southern California.

The Bobcat Fire started Sept. 6 and has doubled in size over the last week as it ripped through forested areas that hadn't burned in decades. The cause is under investigation.

The wildfire also destroyed the nature center at Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area, a geological wonder that attracts some 130,000 visitors per year. A wildlife sanctuary on the property was undamaged, and staff and animals had been evacuated days earlier.

Nearly 19,000 firefighters in California are fighting more than two dozen major wildfires. At least 7,900 wildfires have burned more than 6,000 square miles (15,500 square kilometers) in the state this year, including many since a mid-August barrage of dry lightning ignited parched vegetation.

Officials were investigating the death of a firefighter at another Southern California wildfire that erupted earlier this month from a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device used by a couple to reveal their baby’s gender.

The death occurred Sept. 17 in San Bernardino National Forest as crews battled the El Dorado Fire about 75 miles (120 kilometers) east of Los Angeles, the U.S. Forest Service said in a statement. That blaze is 59% contained.

In Wyoming, officials warned that gusty winds on Monday could cause more growth of a wildfire burning toward cabins and an important water supply reservoir that's a major source of water for the state’s capital city, Cheyenne. The fire in the Medicine Bow National Forest is burning in heavily forested, rugged terrain which would usually would be busy now with hunters at the start of elk hunting season.

And in Colorado, more evacuations were ordered on Sunday as winds caused the state's largest wildfire to grow. Firefighters had to temporarily retreat from the massive Cameron Peak Fire near Red Feather Lakes. Flames later spread into flatter ground which gave crews a better chance to battle the blaze, fire managers said.

More than 9,000 firefighters continue to battle 27 large wildfires across Oregon and Washington, where thousands of residences have been destroyed, the Pacific Northwest Region of the Forest Service said.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices plunged about 5% on Monday, weakening as rising coronavirus cases stoked worries about global demand, and a potential return of Libyan production bolstered oversupply fears.

Crude oil followed other equities and commodities markets in turning risk-averse on Monday as rising COVID-19 infection rates in Europe and other countries prompted renewed lockdown measures, casting doubt over economic recovery.

“We’re seeing more depressing news on jet fuel demand,” said Gary Cunningham, director of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. “We’re looking for a much softer market. The economic picture doesn’t look as rosy as it did before.”

Brent crude LCOc1 settled down $1.71, or 3.96% at $41.44 a barrel. U.S. crude CLc1 fell $1.80, or 4.38% to $39.31 a barrel. Both contracts were set for their biggest daily drops in two weeks.

Prices pulled back amid mounting concerns that an increase in coronavirus cases could cut demand.

More than 30.78 million people have been infected by the novel coronavirus, a Reuters tally shows. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday considered a second national lockdown, while cases in Spain and France have also climbed.

Workers at Libya’s major Sharara field have restarted operations, two engineers working there said, after the National Oil Corporation announced a partial lifting of force majeure. But it was unclear when and at what level production might restart.

Meanwhile, a Suezmax tanker is making its way to Libya’s Marsa El Hariga terminal, according to Refinitiv Eikon shipping data.

Goldman Sachs stuck to its forecast for Brent to reach $49 a barrel by year-end and $65 by the third quarter next year, despite the Libyan developments. Barclays raised its 2020 Brent outlook to $43 a barrel and $53 next year.

Bullish sentiment is underpinned by the hope for improved compliance with an output cut deal among members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies.

Threatening production and providing a floor for prices, Tropical Storm Beta, the 23rd named storm of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season, was predicted to move ashore on Texas later on Monday, the National Hurricane Center said.

U.S. crude oil and gasoline stockpiles likely fell last week, while inventories of distillates, including diesel, were seen gaining, a preliminary Reuters poll showed on Monday.


Greece on Monday reported 453 new coronavirus cases, the highest single-day rise since the end of lockdown in May.

The National Public Health Organization (EODY) also reported six more deaths over the past 24 hours.

Of the new infections, 95 are linked to known clusters; 184 were recorded at the new Kara Tepe refugee camp on Lesvos Island, while 25 were located at the country’s entry points, the health authority added.

The nationwide tally of cases stands at 15,595, while fatalities went up to 344.

As of Monday, all cultural events and concerts were suspended. Also indoor cinemas were closed.

All religious events will be restricted to 20 people.

New measures were also announced for businesses; 40% of employees will have to work from home./aa