US jails are to let out inmates as cases of coronavirus infections are being reported in prisons.
New York City is releasing “vulnerable” prisoners, the mayor said on Wednesday, days after Los Angeles and Cleveland freed hundreds of inmates.
Prison reform advocates say those in jail are at higher risk of catching and passing on Covid-19.
There have been more than 9,400 cases of Covid-19 and 152 deaths in the US so far, according to estimates.
Globally there are some 220,000 confirmed cases and over 8,800 deaths.
Reform campaigners say prisoners face unique risks, due to a lack of hygiene in overcrowded cells and hallways.
Handcuffed people cannot cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze, sinks often lack soap and hand sanitiser is considered contraband due to its alcohol content.
Iran has already released 85,000 people, including political prisoners, in an effort to combat the pandemic.
The US locks up more of its citizens per capita than any other country, with an estimated 2.3 million people behind bars in federal, state and local prisons.
Some high profile convicts have argued for early release over coronavirus fears.
They include President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, 53, financial fraudster Bernie Madoff, 81, and Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela, a notorious Colombian drug lord.