Iran releases about 70,000 prisoners due to coronavirus
So far, 194 people have died from coronavirus in Iran and 6,566 are infected.
Iran, the epicentre of the killer coronavirus epidemic in the Middle East, has released approximately 70,000 prisoners because of the outbreak in the country, Iranian judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi said on Monday. In a TV announcement, the country's Health Ministry on Sunday said that 194 people had died from the virus and 6,566 were infected.
"The release of the prisoners, to the point where it doesn't create insecurity in society ... will continue," he said. Raisi did not specify if or when those released would need to return to jail.
Iran has one of the highest number of deaths from the illness outside of China, where the virus originated. Iranians were warned by Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur to avoid all large gatherings and stay home.
"There have been 743 people who have been added to the total of those infected by COVID-19 through lab test results. In the past 24 hours, we have had 49 people who have died from this illness so we have at least 194 deaths until now," he said.
IranAir has suspended until further notice all flights to European destinations, the official IRNA news agency reported on Sunday, citing a statement from the Civil Aviation Organization. Several countries in the region have closed their borders with Iran and stopped flights.
Meanwhile, a 60-year-old German tourist died in Egypt, becoming its first fatality from the new coronavirus, the Health Ministry in Cairo announced on Sunday.
Saudi Arabia reported four new cases on Monday, bringing the total of registered cases to 15. On Sunday, it imposed a temporary lockdown on its eastern Qatif province, home to a large Shia Muslim population.
Thirteen Americans quarantined in a West Bank hotel on suspicion of having caught the coronavirus have tested negative and will leave soon, a Palestinian official said on Sunday.
Cameroon and Togo also confirmed their first cases of coronavirus on Friday, bringing the number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa reporting infections to five.