Authorities in Afghanistan on Thursday announced to release around 10,000 prisoners as a precautionary measure against the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
At a news conference in the capital Kabul, Attorney General Farid Hamidi said the move has been directed by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.
He clarified only those prisoners over the age of 55 who are not involved in serious crimes would be released in a bid to ensure the pandemic does not penetrate the crowded prisons in the war-ravaged country.
Responding to a question, Ahmad Rashid, director of prisons and detention facilities, said these prisoners would be released in phases in the coming 10 days.
According to Fida Mohammad Paikan, the deputy health minister, the virus has entered the epidemic phase with local transmission in Afghanistan.
Paikan told Anadolu Agency that out of the total 80 coronavirus cases, 28 were local transmission cases.
After first appearing in Wuhan, China, in December, the virus has spread to at least 175 countries and territories, according to data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
The data shows more than 492,600 cases have been reported worldwide, with the death toll above 22,100 and more than 119,900 recoveries.