RIO DE JANEIRO, March 29 (Xinhua) -- Brazil's Health Ministry on Sunday said that the country has registered a total of 4,256 confirmed COVID-19 cases with the death toll rising to 136.

In the past 24 hours, at least 22 patients have died with 352 new cases confirmed, the ministry said.

The southeastern state of Sao Paulo has been hit the hardest with 1,451 cases and 98 deaths, followed by Rio de Janeiro state with 600 cases and 17 deaths.

Official figures show that 13 of Brazil's 27 states have reported deaths from the novel coronavirus.

Most Brazilian states have decreed quarantine to limit people's contact and asked stores not selling essential goods to close so as to contain the epidemic.

The federal government has closed its borders with neighboring countries and restricted flights from countries with large outbreaks.