Hundreds of prisoners broke out of four Brazilian jails on Monday, the day before their day-release privileges were due to be suspended over the coronavirus outbreak.
Sao Paulo state’s penitentiary administration secretariat said in a statement Monday night that 174 inmates have already been recaptured.
Brazilian media said more than 1,000 inmates could be on the loose. Reports also say inmates were complaining about restrictions to visitations this weekend, also aimed at containing the virus.
A video on social media showed a long stream of prisoners purportedly fleeing a prison. Reuters was unable to verify the veracity or location of the video.
The Sao Paulo state prison authority said “acts of insubordination” had taken place at the jails ahead of the suspension of the day-release program.
The suspension was necessary, it added, because 34,000 convicts would be returning to jail and “would have a high potential to install and propagate the coronavirus in a vulnerable population, generating health risks for servers and custodians.” It said law enforcement were “taking care of the situation.”