Iran releases 70,000 prisoners as Coronavirus toll rises

By Kate Mayberry & Virginia Pietromarchi, Aljazeera

Iran has released approximately 70,000 prisoners due to the coronavirus outbreak, Iranian judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi said on Monday, according to Mizan, the news site of the judiciary.

The coronavirus outbreaks in China and South Korea appear to be slowing, as countries elsewhere in the world adopt drastic measures to try and stamp out the infection.

There were 49 new fatalities in Iran, where some 194 people have now died from COVID-19.

In Italy, where some 16 million people in Lombardy and other parts of the north are now under quarantine, there were 133 deaths reported on Sunday, bringing the total to 366. 

More than 7,000 people in the country have been confirmed to have the virus.


But the latest figures from China and South Korea suggest the virus might be slowing in northeast Asia.

China reported 40 new confirmed cases on Sunday, compared with 44 the day before. That is the lowest number since the National Health Commission started publishing national data on January 20.

Jappie Mhango, health and population minister

Outside Hubei province, where the virus originated late last year, China reported no new locally transmitted cases for the second straight day. New infections in South Korea also appear to be slowing.

In Malawi, President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika has also moved swiftly by appointing a special Cabinet Committee to deal with the global threat of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

A statement from the Chief Secretary to the Government, Lloyd Muhara says the Special Cabinet Committee will be chaired by Minister of Heath and Population, Jappie Mhango and other members are Ministers of Disaster Management Affairs and Public Events; Finance, Economic Planning and Development and Education, Science and Technology;  Homeland Security.


Other members are Industry, Trade and Tourism; Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development and Deputy Minister of Defence.

The objective of setting up the Special Cabinet Committee on Coronavirus threat is to assess the impact of the COVID-19 and oversee a Cross-Government response to the threat posed by the COVID-19, said the statement.—Additional reporting by Duncan Mlanjira