Iranian official backtracks after calling Chinese Covid-19 figures a ‘joke’ | World news


Iran’s health ministry spokesman has backtracked after he described China’s official figures on the coronavirus outbreak as a “joke”.

Kianoush Jahanpour made the remarks at a press conference and a tweet on Sunday, adding that China had given the impression that coronavirus was like influenza but with fewer deaths.

Symptoms are defined by the NHS as either:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly

NHS advice is that anyone with symptoms should stay at home for at least 7 days.

If you live with other people, they should stay at home for at least 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home.

After 14 days, anyone you live with who does not have symptoms can return to their normal routine. But, if anyone in your home gets symptoms, they should stay at home for 7 days from the day their symptoms start. Even if it means they’re at home for longer than 14 days.

If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.

If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.

After 7 days, if you no longer have a high temperature you can return to your normal routine.

If you still have a high temperature, stay at home until your temperature returns to normal.

If you still have a cough after 7 days, but your temperature is normal, you do not need to continue staying at home. A cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.

Staying at home means you should:

  • not go to work, school or public areas
  • not use public transport or taxis
  • not have visitors, such as friends and family, in your home
  • not go out to buy food or collect medicine – order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home

You can use your garden, if you have one. You can also leave the house to exercise – but stay at least 2 metres away from other people.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, use the NHS 111 coronavirus service to find out what to do.

Source: NHS England on 23 March 2020

His tweet led led to a reproach from the Chinese ambassador to Iran, Chang Hua, who said China’s health ministry had held a press conference every day. “I suggest that you read their news very carefully in order to draw conclusions,” the ambassador said.

Chinese-Iranian relations are normally warm, partly because China is a key market for Iranian oil, and criticism of China’s coronavirus figures had previously come exclusively from the west.

Jahanpour said he had merely been commenting on how China’s epidemiological assessment of coronavirus was not shared by Iran.

After Chinese representations to the Iranian foreign ministry, Jahanpour, a familiar face on Iranian TV, said on Monday: “We should also see the glass half full. At the very least, we all decided that we had to respect principles of diplomacy.”

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Meanwhile, Iran announced plans to ban printed newspapers in an effort to slow the spread of the disease. Editors of seven titles including the reformist Etemad and Ebtekar protested against the decision, saying it represented a further incursion of press freedom and would bankrupt them.

Alireza Zali, the commander-in-chief of the 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, at a time when we are witnessing this increase in motor traffic, the numbers entering Tehran’s hospitals is still increasing.”

He said there had been a 25% increase in hospital admissions and a 15% increase in intensive care admissions on Sunday compared with the previous day.

Iran said on Monday that its death toll from coronavirus had risen to 3,739, an increase of 136 in the past 24 hours, and a total of 60,500 people had been infected, up 2,274 since the previous day.



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