Iran on Thursday announced 157 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, raising the official number of fatalities to 2,234 in one of the world’s worst-hit countries.

During a news conference, Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said that 2,389 new cases have been confirmed in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections to 29,406, according to the media report.

Last week, addressing a cabinet session, President Hassan Rouhani said that his government has managed to meet the needs of the people, especially for food and sanitary items, in the wake of the outbreak.

Earlier, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) sent two aid planes carrying medical supplies to Iran which has been severely hit by the coronavirus crisis, despite a fallout between the two countries.

The move came a day after a call between the UAE Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Jawad Zarif.

Last month, Iran’s deputy health minister said that he has contracted the coronavirus and placed himself in isolation, a day after appearing feverish at a press conference in which he downplayed its spread in the shrine city of Qom and said mass quarantines were unnecessary.

Earlier, authorities have placed about 56 million people in hard-hit central Hubei under an unprecedented lockdown. Other cities far from the epicentre have restricted the movements of residents, while Beijing ordered people arriving in the capital to undergo a 14-day self-quarantine.

Iran has been the worst-hit country in the Middle East by the outbreak of COVID-19, or novel coronavirus.