Iran filed a complaint at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against the United States regarding the impact of Washington's sanctions that have seriously hampered the country’s efforts to curtail the coronavirus pandemic.
“Given the fact that the sanctions are inhumane and against human rights, a new complaint was lodged at the ICJ about the consequences of the bans on the COVID-19 pandemic,” Iran’s Vice President for Legal Affairs La’ya Joneidi said during a visit to Pasteur Institute of Iran in the capital Tehran on Saturday.
On July 2, Iran’s envoy to the United Nations called for an end to unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States on various countries as the restrictive measures hinder their fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Majid Takht-Ravanchi made the remarks at a UN Security Council meeting to review the impact of the coronavirus, stressing that the lifting of the sanctions was necessary to counter the spread of the flu-like pathogen in the targeted countries as well as across the world.
Takht-Ravanchi said the unilateral sanctions by the US on countries like Iran, Syria and Yemen mostly impacted coronavirus patients as the measures impeded efforts by the affected countries to import medical equipment and medicines needed to fight the disease.
“These unilateral sanctions effectively target patients the most, and show how immoral, inhumane, and illegitimate these sanctions are,” the Iranian envoy to the UN said at the time.
Record death toll
Iran’s Health Ministry on Sunday announced 163 new deaths due to the COVID-19 disease, the highest one-day toll since the outbreak began in Iran in February.
The previous record of 162 deaths was announced last Monday in Iran, which has been battling West Asia’s deadliest outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
The new deaths bring the total toll in Iran to 11,571, Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said on television.
“In the past 24 hours, 2,560 people have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total number of infections to 240,438,” Lari added.
Official figures have shown a rising trajectory in fatalities and new confirmed cases since Iran reported a near-two-month low in daily recorded infections in early May.
The increase has prompted the government to make the wearing of masks mandatory in enclosed public spaces, with some officials and television anchors wearing masks on camera as part of a campaign to encourage their use.
“People are obliged to wear face masks in all state organizations and crowded public places like subway stations, public transportation as well as shopping malls as of July 5. State organizations are required to ensure that the new regulation is implemented and offer their services only to clients who wear masks. Employees of the organizations can also go to work only if they wear masks,” said Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi.
Harirchi added that the country’s western provinces of East Azarbaijan, West Azarbaijan, Kurdestan and Kermanshah along with the southern provinces of Khuzestan and Bushehr have just started tackling the first wave of COVID-19 infections, voicing concerns that some areas in the country, including the central province of Fars, are likely to record a spike in new coronavirus cases.
He further noted that nine provinces have been granted permits to shutter down restaurants, wedding halls, teahouses, beauty salons, cinemas, theaters, prayer grounds and mosques in the “red” regions, where the outbreak is pervasive.
Authorities have repeatedly urged the public to respect hygiene rules aimed at reining in the outbreak.
Footage on national television showed some people still traveling without face coverings on public transport, where masks have been obligatory for over two months.
Iran has not imposed a full-scale lockdown but has introduced restrictions, including on religious and commercial sites. But the country had progressively lifted measures as of April, as infection numbers had declined.
Official figures show that the virus has rebounded since then.
Lari said almost a third of Iran’s 31 provinces were classified as “red,” the highest category in the country’s virus risk ranking.
Press TV and AFP contributed to this story.