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Iran officials cast doubt on China's 'untrustworthy' coronavirus tolls

An Iranian official was criticised last week after calling China's figures a 'bitter joke' [AFP]

Date of publication: 7 April, 2020

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Iranian health officials have slammed Beijing's coronavirus tolls as 'distorted' and 'far from the truth'.
Iranian health officials have cast doubt on China's reporting of its novel coronavirus toll, saying the figures appear to be too low.

"After the virus spread, it became evident it wasn't as China reported," said Minoo Mohraz, a health ministry official who is also a member of Iran's coronavirus-fighting taskforce.

"They're currently retracting many of their articles and their figures and studies have not been very correct," she said on Tuesday, quoted by state news agency IRNA.

"With what we know of their scientific studies... their figures are not trustworthy."

Another taskforce official said China's figures were "far from the truth", based on Covid-19's spread and high fatalities worldwide.

Hamid Souri, an epidemiologist, said "distorted data leads to distorted decision-making".

Beijing has faced scrutiny over its Covid-19 case count in recent weeks.

Read more: Can Beijing's mask diplomacy win hearts and minds in the Arab world?

Despite being the location of the virus' origin, China has reported fewer cases and deaths from the highly contagious virus than Italy, France, Spain and the United Kingdom, where cases were registered much later.

Beijing has reported more than 81,000 confirmed cases of the virus, including 3,331 deaths.

[Click to enlarge]

Iran's health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour came under fire on Sunday after saying China's reporting of its COVID-19 figures was a "bitter joke".

He was slammed on Twitter by the Chinese ambassador to Tehran, Chang Hua, who called on him to "respect realities and the great efforts of the people of China".

Jahanpour later retreated and tweeted that "China's support of Iran in these trying times is unforgettable".

Iran-China relations are usually warm as Beijing is one of Tehran's top trade partners, especially in oil sales.

Iran says the virus has killed more than 3,800 and infected over 62,500 in the Islamic Republic.

But Tehran has also faced speculation abroad that the real number of deaths and infections could be higher.

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