Iran reported 15 new deaths from the novel corona virus on Thursday, raising the national number to 107, and said schools and universities would remain closed until early April.
Important cultural and sporting events have already been suspended and working hours across the country reduced, which is one of the most affected after China.
"Schools and universities will be closed by the end of the current Iranian year," health minister Saeed Namaki said in a press conference on television.
The Iranian year ends on March 19 and on national holidays until early April.
"People shouldn't see this as an opportunity to travel," said the minister. "You should stay home and take our warnings seriously.
"This virus is highly contagious. It's serious business, don't joke about it."
The Islamic Republic also reported 591 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 disease, bringing the total to 3,513 infected cases.
"To date, samples have been taken from 23,327 suspected cases, of which only 3,513 have been confirmed," said the ministry spokesman, Kianoush Jahanpour.
According to Jahanpour, Tehran Province is worst affected with 1,352 confirmed cases, followed by Qom with 386, Gilan with 333 and Esfahan with 238.
The Shiite holy city of Qom, south of Tehran, is the epicenter of the Iranian coronavirus outbreak, where the first deaths were reported on February 19.
The authorities have since tried to stop the rapid spread.
"But there is some good news about the increasing recovery rate," said Jahanpour, noting that 739 of the confirmed cases had recovered.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)