The Maharashtra government on Thursday decided to release around 11,000 prisoners, whose term of imprisonment is less than seven years, on parole, amid the coronavirus epidemic. Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh made the announcement via his Twitter handle.

“I’ve asked for releasing nearly 11,000 convicts/undertrials imprisoned for offences with prescribed punishment upto 7 yrs or less on emergency parole / furlough to reduce overcrowding in prisons and contain the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak,” Deshmukh, a Nationalist Congress Party leader, tweeted.

Deshmukh said the order will be implemented in some 60 prisons in the state, PTI reported.

There have been 124 cases of the coronavirus in Maharashtra so far, the highest in the country, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The total number of cases in India rose to 694 on Thursday, and the toll to 16. The Centre has imposed a 21-day nationwide lockdown beginning March 25.

Globally, there have been over 4.95 lakh cases of the coronavirus, and over 22,000 deaths so far, according to an estimate by Johns Hopkins University.