US sanctions and coronavirus make for Iran's toughest year, Rouhani says
The coronavirus crisis has exacerbated economic problems that worsened after Trump withdrew from a nuclear deal in 2018
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that his country was experiencing its toughest year because of US sanctions and the Covid-19 pandemic.
The coronavirus crisis exacerbated economic problems that worsened after US President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018 from Iran's nuclear deal with major powers and reimposed sanctions. On Monday, Iran's currency fell to its lowest level against the US dollar.
"It's been the most difficult year due to the enemy's economic pressure and the pandemic," Mr Rouhani said in a televised speech.
"The economic pressure that began in 2018 has increased ... and today it is the toughest pressure on our dear country."
Iran has had a sharp increase in coronavirus infections and deaths since restrictions to stem the spread of the pandemic were gradually lifted from mid-April. The death toll recently topped 100 a day for the first time in two months.
In the previous 24 hours, 2,489 new cases were recorded, taking the total to 222,669, Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state television. She said 144 people had died, bringing the total to 10,508.
Mr Rouhani said the wearing of masks will become mandatory for two weeks starting next Sunday in "gathering places" that are deemed "red spots".
Senior officials have regularly given warnings that restrictions will be reimposed if health regulations such as social distancing are not observed.
Iran launched a campaign on Saturday to motivate a reluctant public to use face masks.
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Updated: June 28, 2020 03:23 PM