Iran’s coronavirus crisis has marked a dark new milestone, recording over 250 deaths in a single day for the first time, reports Campbell MacDiarmid, Middle East correspondent.

In the past 24 hours, 251 people had died from the virus, health ministry spokeswoman Sadat Lari announced yesterday. That death toll was a record, surpassing the previous high of 239 fatalities in one 24-hour period set last Wednesday. 

With Sunday’s deaths, 28,544 people have now succumbed to the virus in Iran, Ms Lari said. 

Iran’s ability to combat the virus is being affected by an economic collapse, with the rial dropping to a record low of 312,200 against the US dollar on the black market on Sunday, having shed well over half of its value this year alone. 

The economic situation is being compounded by new US sanctions aimed at isolating Iran from the global financial system. Iran says sanctions hinder the country’s pandemic response by blocking the purchasing of some medicines. 

Since new US sanctions were announced last Thursday, pharmaceutical companies in three countries had cancelled contracts with Iran, Alireza Wahhabzadeh, an advisor to Iran’s health minister, told semi-official Fars news agency on Sunday.

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