İrem UZUN -TDO- On Monday, Iran called for global solidarity against the coronavirus pandemic and says unilateral U.S. sanctions are causing 'unnecessary suffering' in the country. "The U.S. must be held to account for its intensifying unilateral sanctions against Iran and other affected nations," Iran's health minister Saeed Namaki said during his speech in the World Health Organization's annual assembly, which is being held online. U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar also addressed the forum but did not respond to Iran's allegations.

Iran has been hit by the pandemic harder than any other country in the Middle East, with more than 120,000 cases and at least 7,000 related deaths.  The Islamic Republic reported 2,294 new coronavirus cases on Monday, according to official Health Ministry data, which is the highest daily increase in more than six weeks.

While the Trump administration has said medicines or humanitarian assistance going to Iran are not involved to sanctions, many banks and companies have refrained from taking part in any such ventures out of fear of getting caught up in U.S. secondary sanctions, Al Jazeera wrote. According to the Human Rights Watch, U.S. sanctions have devastated Iran's healthcare system and hindered the ability for Iranians to access health services.

Many countries have called for an independent probe into the pandemic in their speeches during online assembly. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced that independent evaluation of the global COVID-19 response would be launched as soon as possible.

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