Ethiopia has announced it would free thousands of inmates from the country’s overcrowded prisons to limit the spread of the Coronavirus.

The country’s Attorney General , Adanech Abebe, told state media the measure would apply to more than 4,000 prisoners.

Most of the prisoners to be freed are locked up for petty crimes and drug offences or have less than a year remaining on their sentences.

Ethiopia currently has 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 . All the cases involve people who travelled from abroad or had direct contact with people who travelled from abroad.

However, Ethiopians continue to gather in large crowds despite Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s warnings for social distancing.