DUBAI, Oct 14 (Reuters) Iran‘s health ministry on Wednesday reported 279 deaths from the coronavirus in the previous 24 hours, the highest daily tally recorded since February, bringing total fatalities to 29,349 in the hardest-hit Middle Eastern country.

Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari told state TV that 4,830 new cases, also a record high, were identified in the past 24 hours, pushing the total number of cases to 513,219.

Iran‘s Health Minister Saeed Namaki told state TV that three days of travel restriction would be imposed from Thursday in five cities, including in Tehran, where the spread of the disease were at its highest level.

Namaki warned of “very difficult months” ahead in the country, which publicly announced its first two cases of – and deaths from – the novel coronavirus on Feb. 19.

To fight rising infections, the government on Saturday made face mask-wearing in public places in Tehran mandatory, warning that violators will be fined. Authorities plan to impose the same restrictions in other large cities.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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