Hundreds of inmates escaped from at least four prisons in the state of Sao Paulo after local officials canceled their temporary exits because of fears they could bring the new coronavirus back with them upon their return.
Sao Paulo state’s penitentiary administration secretariat said in a statement Tuesday morning 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 shot in the city of Mongaguá, on the coast of Sao Paulo state, and broadcast by TV Globo shows hundreds of men running out of a prison that has the capacity to hold about 2,800 inmates.
In the footage from the scene, the person filming calls out: “Come back on Monday, hey!”
Other videos showed dozens on a beach.
The local government prohibited the temporary exit from prison of about 34,000 inmates of a semi-open regime due to fears they could get infected outside and bring the virus back to the penitentiary.