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Inmates escape Brazil jails over COVID-19 restrictions

Incident took place late Monday after temporary exits were canceled, visitors restricted in semi-open prisons

Beyza Binnur Donmez   | 17.03.2020
Inmates escape Brazil jails over COVID-19 restrictions

ANKARA

Hundreds of inmates have escaped from at least four semi-open prisons in Brazil following some restrictions imposed in fear of coronavirus outbreak.

The incident happened late Monday in the Southeastern state of Sao Paulo after the state officials canceled temporary leaves of prisoners over fears that they might contract the virus and spread the disease to the rest of the inmates, according to local daily G1.

Also, restrictions tightened for visitors amid coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

"The measure was necessary because the benefit would include more than 34,000 convicts of the semi-open regime who, returning to prison, would have high potential to install and propagate coronavirus," Secretariat of Penitentiary Administration (SAP) said in a statement.

According to the department, the semi-open prisons where prisoner escapes took place did not have armed guards.

It added that 174 inmates have already been recaptured, while local media estimates over 1,000 prisoners could be on the loose.

A video, shared by G1, in the coastal municipality of Mongagua shows hundreds of men -- reportedly 400 -- running out of prison while a man shouts: "Come back Monday, okay?"

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