An Iranian infectious disease specialist expected as much as 40% of Tehran’s population to be infected with the coronavirus by March 20, according to state media. 

“An infected person could transmit the virus to four people at the same time,” Masoud Mardani, a member of Iran’s National Influenza Committee, said Friday in an interview with state-run Iran Newspaper.

But cases of the virus known as COVID-19 may cease at the end of March if efforts to fight continue along the same level, Hamid Suri, a member of the Iranian Anti-Coronary Center, told state television.

Underlining he does not agree with Mardani’s assumption, Suri said the epidemic is slowly disappearing.

Suri, however, stressed that if effective steps are not taken the rates of infection are likely to increase.

The death toll in Iran from the virus climbed to 124, the country's Health Ministry announced Thursday.

As many as 17 more people died from form the virus as 1,234 new cases were reported across the country in the last 24 hours, health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told a news conference in Tehran.

The latest figure brought the total number of infections to 4,747, he said.

Besides Italy and South Korea, Iran is the worst-affected country since the outbreak in China last December.

Tehran has taken several measures to contain the virus, including closing all schools and institutes of higher education, calling off sports events nationwide and banning government officials from leaving the country.

The global death toll has surpassed 3,300, with more than 97,000 confirmed cases in 87 countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesushas called on governments to take the virus seriously because he said "we can only save lives together."