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Iran Air suspends flights to Europe until further notice

The statement made no mention of the deadly coronavirus [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 March, 2020

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All Iran Air flights to Europe have been suspended until further notice, the airline said on Sunday, though it made no mention of the deadly coronavirus.
Iran Air announced on Sunday the suspension of all its flights to Europe until further notice, as the country's coronavirus death toll continued to increase.

The statement issued by the company made no mention of the novel coronavirus epidemic as a reason for the measure, citing only "restrictions" imposed by European authorities for "unknown reasons".

According to several specialised sites, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) banned on February 3 Iran Air aircraft from European airspace, namely an Airbus A321-200 and two Airbus A330-200 that had not undergone necessary upgrades for authorisation to fly in Europe. 

Sweden on March 2 announced it was temporarily suspending the flight permits of Iran Air on the advice of health officials who said Tehran was "not in control" of the novel coronavirus outbreak on its soil.

The Iranian carrier operates flights to multiple European destinations including Paris, London, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Frankfurt, Vienna and Rome. 

The latest measure comes as authorities in Tehran confirmed the overall death toll from the novel coronavirus increased to 194, the highest toll within 24 hours since the start of the outbreak in the Islamic republic. 

Iran has one of the highest tolls outside of China, where the disease originated. The virus has spread to all of Iran's 31 provinces with 6,566 confirmed cases.

The capital Tehran remains the worst-hit province in the country, with 1,539 confirmed cases.

On Saturday, a newly elected conservative MP for the city was the second Iranian lawmaker killed by the virus, state news agency IRNA reported.

Read also: Netanyahu plans to deploy army of children to disinfect Israel from coronavirus

Fatemeh Rahbar, 55, served as MP from 2004 to 2016 and was  among the top candidates in Tehran for the conservatives, who overwhelmingly won February's general election marked by the lowest turnout in the Islamic republic's history.

Seven other politicians and government officials have died in the outbreak since the country reported its first cases in mid-February.

Iran has closed schools and universities until early April, as well as suspended major cultural and sporting events and reduced working hours across the country to slow the contagion, which has spread to all of its 31 provinces.

More than 300 of the new cases reported on Saturday were in Mazandaran province, a popular tourist destination north of Tehran on the Caspian sea.

Several provinces, including in northern and central Iran, have said they will not provide lodging to tourists in an effort to dissuade people from travelling.

Read more: How Gulf countries succeeded where Iran failed on containing coronavirus

Gilan and Mazandaran police from Friday started preventing cars without local license plates from entering the provinces.

But according to an adviser to the health minster Alireza Vahabzadeh, some locals were bypassing the restrictions by giving non-residents lifts across province borders. 

In a tweet, he urged people to "cooperate" with the authorities.

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