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Iran suffers amid US sanctions and Coronavirus outbreak

Iranians had been hit by low medicine supplies even before the new Coronavirus broke out in the central city of Qom and spread, claiming several lives and fostering panic amid a lack of face masks.

The medical shortages kicked in after the US re-imposed sanctions on Iran in 2018.

Washington had exempted humanitarian goods, but international purchases of such supplies are forestalled by banks being wary of conducting any business with Iran, for fear of falling foul of sanctions themselves.

This in turn has worsened the acute shortage of medicines and led to high prices.

Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour admitted that the country had been struggling to import “medicines for rare and special diseases” for around a year now.

A new financial channel set up by Switzerland to facilitate humanitarian trade with Iran appears to have made little difference.

Meanwhile, some pharmacies continue to charge black market rates to Iranians already reeling under recession and the plunging currency.