Ethiopia to free 4,000 inmates as it steps up war against coronavirus

Ethiopia plans to free more than 4,000 prisoners holed up in its prisons as a measure to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Attorney General Adanech Abebe said that the country would release inmates who were convicted of ‘petty crimes’, those with less than a year remaining on their sentences, and women with babies.

Foreigners charged with involvement in smuggling and drug trafficking will also be released and deported to their countries of origin.

"Considering the nature of the transmission of the virus and to end the overcrowding in prisons, the cases of 4 011 prisoners have been discontinued and given pardons," Adanech said.

The releases are expected to begin today, Thursday.

As of today, Ethiopia has 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Following the rise in cases, the Ethiopian government announced directives and measures to fight the spread of covid-19.

On March 16, the office of the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, announced the closure of schools and suspended all public gatherings and sporting events for 15 days.

On March 20, Ethiopian Airlines suspended flights to at least 30 high-risk countries. It also announced that anyone entering the country should undergo a mandatory self-quarantine for 14 days.

Night clubs in Addis Ababa, the capital city were to remain closed until further notice.

On March 23, the country closed all land borders and deployed security forces to all its entry points to halt the movement of people.

Ethiopia has also ordered thousands of its civil servants to start working from home effective yesterday.