Iran envoy to the UN, Esmaeil Baqaei Hamaneh on Friday said that the US “cruel and illegal” sanctions against the country have caused difficulties for ordinary Iranians’ access to medicine and medical equipment and services amid the COVID-19 spread.

Baqaei Hamaneh said in a letter to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, “The sanctions have blocked Iran’s banking interaction with other countries in the purchase of commodities required in the fight against the coronavirus”, according to the media report.

“The illegal restrictions are a serious threat to Iran’s efforts to battle and contain the virus”, he further added.

Earlier on Wednesday, President Hassan Rouhani censured the US for maintaining its sanctions against Iran despite the outbreak of COVID-19 across the country.

Last week, the US has renewed sanctions waivers on Iran that allowed foreign companies to continue work at Iranian nuclear facilities to keep Tehran from developing nuclear weapons

Iran is among the countries that have been severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the US has shown little willingness to ease its notorious “maximum pressure” against Tehran.

In January, US government announced that it imposed sanctions on the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and it’s head while renewing waivers allowing foreign companies to continue work at Iranian nuclear sites.

On December 12, the US imposed fresh sanctions on Iran, including an airline and the country’s shipping industry.

While announcing the sanctions Steve Mnuchin said that Iran “uses its aviation and shipping industries to supply regional terrorist and militant groups with weapons, directly contributing to the devastating humanitarian crises in Syria and Yemen”

Iran, the worst-hit country by the virus in the Middle East, announced on Friday 53,183 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country and a total deaths of 3,294.

Last year, in November the US accused Iran of “nuclear extortion” and vowed no let-up in pressure after the clerical regime and said it would resume uranium enrichment at the key Fordow plant.

Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads since May last year when US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal and began reimposing crippling sanctions.