Kianoush Jahanpour made the remarks during a press conference and tweet on Sunday, adding that China had given the impression that the coronavirus was like the flu but with fewer deaths.
His tweet led to a reproach from Chinese ambassador to Iran, Chang Hua, who said that the Chinese Ministry of Health held a press conference every day. “I suggest you read their news very carefully in order to draw conclusions,” said the ambassador.
Sino-Iranian relations are generally warm, in part because China is a key market for Iranian oil, and critics of Chinese coronavirus figures previously came exclusively from the west.
Jahanpour said he had simply commented on how China’s epidemiological assessment of the coronavirus was not shared by Iran.
After making representations to the Iranian foreign ministry, Jahanpour, a familiar face on Iranian television, said on Monday: “We should also see the glass half full. At the very least, we have all decided that we must respect the principles of diplomacy. “
Meanwhile, Iran has announced plans to ban print newspapers to slow the spread of the disease. The editors of seven titles, including reformist Etemad and Ebtekar, protested the decision, saying it represented a new incursion on press freedom and would bankrupt them.
Alireza Zali, the commander-in-chief of anti-coronavirus HQ in Tehran, said: “Especially in Tehran Province, we have witnessed a very serious change in the presence and movement of people in cities, and unfortunately, in At a time when we are witnessing this increase in car traffic, the number of people entering Tehran hospitals continues to increase. “
He said there had been a 25% increase in hospital admissions and a 15% increase in intensive care admissions on Sunday compared to the previous day.
Iran said on Monday that its death toll from the coronavirus had risen to 3,739, an increase of 136 over the past 24 hours, and a total of 60,500 people had been infected, or 2,274 since the previous day.