In Iran, there's now one coronavirus-related death every 'ten minutes'
Death tolls continue to climb in the Islamic Republic, the hardest-hit nation in the Middle East, which has so far recorded 18,407 cases and 1284 deaths, according to data from John Hopkins University.
Of those numbers, 1046 were cases recorded in the past 24 hours, while 149 of the recorded deaths occurred within that period.
Tehran, the country's capital, 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.
''According to the latest facts, every hour 50 people in Iran are infected with Covid-19 and every ten minutes, one person dies from complication arising from a Covid-19 infection." Kianuch Jahanpur, a spokesperson for Iran’s health ministry, tweeted.
"Make a careful decision when it comes to Nowruz trips and travel plans, as well as gatherings and sightseeing,'' Jahanpur added.
In a separate event, nearly 10,000 prisoners, including political ones, are set to be pardoned in honour of Nowruz, the Iranian new year, state media have reported.
"A large number of prisoners who have been temporarily freed do not need to return to jail after the leader's pardon," said Gholamhossein Esmaili, a judiciary spokesman.
There is no indication whether the pardon, granted by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, extends to the British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, who was released on Tuesday for two weeks along with 85,000 others as a preventative measure to combat the coronavirus epidemic.
There was also no word on the plight of British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was not known to be among those released on Tuesday.
Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IGRC) has arrested dozens of dual nationals and foreigners over recent years, including citizens of numerous Western countries.
Tehran denies these are spurred by political motive, accusing those held of "foreign espionage".
Iran currently has 189,5000 people in prison, according to a January report by the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman.
Tuesday's move came in response to widespread calls from the UN and the US government to release prisoners from the country's overcrowded jails, in which conditions are ripe for the uncontrolled transmission of the deadly virus.
For his part, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani has defended his countries measures against the outbreak.
While stopping short of imposing a full lockdown, the government has ordered the closure of schools and university and banned sports, cultural and religious gatherings.
Iran has also closed four holy Shia Shrines.
Agencies contributed to this report.