Iran has allowed more than 54,000 prisoners in its crowded jails out on temporary furloughs to help stop the spread of coronavirus, the BBC reported Tuesday.
The prisoners were released after testing negative for COVID-19, the official name of the novel coronavirus, and posting bail, judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili told reporters.
So-called "security prisoners" who have sentences longer than five years are not being freed.
British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is expected to be freed soon, a British member of Parliament said, quoting the Iranian ambassador to the U.K. she "may be released on furlough today or tomorrow."
Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been jailed since 2016 after being sentenced to five years in prison for espionage. She has denied the charges.
Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said his wife has tested positive for COVID-19. Esmaili said on Monday that Zaghari-Ratcliffe has since spoken to her family and "told them about her good health."
Iran has been hard-hit by the virus. The health ministry said Tuesday the confirmed number of cases in the country stood at 2,336, though the true number is thought to be higher.
Several top Iranian officials also have contracted the virus, including Pirhossein Kolivand, the head of emergency medical services.
Twenty-three members of the Iranian parliament have tested positive as well.
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.