TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s health minister has replaced the spokesman of the ministry who in March described China’s early reporting on the new coronavirus outbreak as a “bitter joke.”
Chinese authorities have been heavily criticized for secrecy and delays in responding to the virus that emerged in central China in December.
Iran’s official IRNA news agency said Health Minister Saeed Namaki issued an order replacing the ministry’s spokesman, Kianoush Jahanpour, with Sima Sadat Lari.
Following criticism by Iranian hard-liners, Jahanpour — who has been the public face of the authorities’ struggle against the pandemic — removed his “bitter joke” tweet and instead praised China’s support for Iran in fighting COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
Namaki urged Sadat to run her statements by the minister before issuing them since all remarks by the ministry’s spokesperson are considered the official position of the minister.