Iran on Thursday announced 157 new deaths from coronavirus, raising the official number of fatalities to 2,234, as it slapped a ban on intercity travel to try to curb the spread.
Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour also said that 2,389 new cases have been confirmed in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of declared infections in one of the world's wost-hit countries to 29,406.
"Fortunately, until today 10,457 of those infected have recovered and been discharged from hospitals," he told a news conference.
The Islamic republic imposed strict new containment measures on Thursday, after weeks of public appeals largely failed to prevent hundreds of thousands of Iranians taking to the roads to visit family for the Persian New Year holidays. "Those who were planning to travel, cancel it right from this moment," said Hossein Zolfaghari, a senior official at Iran's anti-coronavirus committee.
"Those who are out travelling should return home quickly," he added in a televised announcement while announcing details of the new measures.
Zolfaghari said non-residents will not be allowed into cities based on their car plates and drivers' IDs, and violators will be fined and their cars impounded.
"All official and non-official gatherings... are also banned," the official said, without elaborating further.
President Hassan Rouhani said in a cabinet meeting he hoped the "more strict measures" would help to curb the virus.
He added the government was going to ask Iran's supreme leader for permission to draw $1 billion from its national development fund to address "the coronavirus' complexities and issues, especially the medical sector's needs".
On March 18, Indian government said as many as 276 Indians have been infected with coronavirus abroad, including 255 in Iran.
The Indians in Iran include about 1,100 pilgrims mainly from Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir and Maharashtra, nearly 300 students primarily from J&K, about 1,000 fishermen, including from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, and others who are on a long-term stay in Iran for pursuing their livelihood and religious studies, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said.
Asked about steps take by the Centre to help Indians stranded in Iran due to the coronavirus outbreak, Muraleedharan said the government has made focussed efforts for the safe return of Indians from that country.