Iranian authorities on Thursday announced 149 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, raising the toll to 1,284 in the country, AFP reports.
While Thursday's death toll surpassed that of the previous day's, when 147 new deaths were reported, the number of new cases has fallen, according to figures provided by Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi.
A total of 18,407 people have contracted the disease in Iran, with 1,046 new cases confirmed in the last 24 hours.
"In 11 provinces" out of 31, "the number of infections has decreased because people have followed our guidelines", Raisi said, renewing the call for Iranians to stay home.
Tehran province had the highest number of new cases, with 137 reported, followed by the central province of Isfahan, with 108 and Gilan in the north with 73.
Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour tweeted that at the current rate, "50 new cases of infection are detected every hour and one death recorded every 10 minutes."
"Considering this information, make a conscious decision concerning travel, days out and family visits during Nowruz", the Persian New Year holiday, he added.
Iran has been the hardest hit country in the Middle East by COVID-19. The virus has killed at least 12 Iranian politicians and officials, both sitting and former, and infected 13 more who have either been quarantined or are being treated.
High-profile deaths in Iran from the coronavirus include a member of the council advising the Ayatollah, a former ambassador, a newly-elected member of parliament, an adviser to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and a re-elected member of parliament.
Last week, it was reported that Iran’s senior Vice President, Eshaq Jahangiri, and two other Cabinet members have contracted the new coronavirus.
A top adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati, was also reported to have been infected with the virus.
On Monday, Ayatollah Hashem Bathayi Golpayegani, a member of the Assembly of Experts that appoints and monitors Khamenei, died from the virus.