Patients with coronavirus disease lie in beds at the ICU of Sasan Hospital, in Tehran, Iran. WANA/Reuters
Iran said on Tuesday 141 more people have died from the novel coronavirus, raising the official toll in one of the world's worst-affected countries to 2,898.
Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 3,111 new infections have been confirmed over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 44,606.
He said 3,703 of those hospitalised are in a critical condition and 14,656 have recovered.
Iran has been scrambling to contain the COVID-19 outbreak since it reported its first cases on February 19.
After weeks of refraining from imposing a lockdown or quarantine measures, Tehran decided last Wednesday to ban all intercity travel until at least April 8.
There is no official lockdown within Iran's cities, although the government has repeatedly urged Iranians to stay at home to contain the spread of the virus.
President Hassan Rouhani renewed those warnings on Tuesday as the climax of the two-week Persian New Year holiday nears.
Hr said authorities would close parks across the country on Wednesday, in a move that effectively blocks the family picnics that traditionally mark the 13th day of holiday.
People carry the body of infected with coronavirus at a cemetery just outside Tehran, Iran, on Monday. AP
Rouhani called on people to "leave this tradition for some other time" and said violators would be fined.
The authorities have also stopped the print editions of all Iranian media until at least April 8, calling on them to publish online instead, state news agency IRNA reported.
"Publishing newspapers and other print media requires the activities of groups ranging from reporters to the printing and distribution industry and this could potentially increase the disease's spread," said a statement from Iran's anti-coronavirus committee.
The outbreak has not spared Iranian lawmakers or other officials.
A parliament spokesman told the Tasnim news agency Tuesday that at least 23 of the legislature's 290 members have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
People "should cancel all travel and stay at home so that we may see the situation improving in the coming days," health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said in a televised conference.
The outbreak has infected a host of senior officials, politicians, clerics and members of the elite Revolutionary Guards in Iran, the fourth worst-affected nation after China, South Korea and Italy.
"Fortunately 45,983 of those infected with the virus have recovered ... There were 1,617 new infected cases in the past 24 hours," tweeted Alireza Vahabzadeh, an adviser to Iran's health minister.
In moves to prevent panic over the coronavirus in Iran, the worst-hit country in the Middle East, President Hassan Rouhani appealed to people not to spread rumours and the judiciary banned most officials from announcing numbers of those infected.
Expatriates living in the UAE were elated as their family members, colleagues, friends stuck in other countries are now able to return as the UAE has lifted restriction on incoming flights from Monday onwards.
The Committee explained that the new guidelines take into account the exceptional situations of some categories of people including people of determination, children, and those with chronic respiratory conditions.
The UAE will today (Monday) start receiving residents with valid residence visas, who were stranded abroad due to coronavirus pandemic from various countries.