Iran has temporarily released more than 54,000 prisoners in an effort to combat the spread of the new coronavirus disease in crowded jails.
The inmates were allowed out of prison after testing negative for COVID-19 and posting bail. “Security prisoners” sentenced to more than five years will not be let out.
The outbreak in Iran has killed at least 77 people in less than two weeks.
On March 3, the health ministry said the number of confirmed cases had risen by more than 50% for the second day in a row. It now stands at 2,336, although the real figure is believed to far higher.
Cases linked to Iran have also been reported by Afghanistan, Canada, Lebanon, Pakistan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
A number of senior Iranian officials have also contracted the virus. Among the latest is the head of the emergency medical services. Twenty-three of the 290 members of parliament have also tested positive.