Mumbai: As many as 77 inmates and 26 staff members from Arthur Road jail in Mumbai have contracted coronavirus, Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh said on Thursday.

After the coronavirus epidemic broke out, the state government had isolated eight prisons in the state including the Arthur Road prison, and ordered that no new person will be allowed to enter and those inside, including jail staff, will not be allowed to leave prison during lockdown.

But despite the precautions, 77 inmates of Arthur Road prison were found to have contracted coronavirus after coming in contact with a cook who had caught the infection, Deshmukh had told reporters in Palghar district earlier in the day.

The home minister was speaking to the media after visiting Gadchinchale village in the district where three persons including two monks were lynched by a mob on suspicion of being thieves on April 16.

Later, in a video message on Twitter, the minister informed that "coronavirus infection was found in one of the barracks of the Arthur Road Jail and tests of all the inmates in the barrack were immediately carried out".

"It was found that 77 inmates had contracted the disease. Plus, 26 of police personnel too tested positive for coronavirus," he said. 

"So we have initiated the process of quarantining these 103 persons at St George Hospital," the minister added.

Deshmukh also said that to prevent the spread of virus in jails, the state government had decided to release some 5,000 prisoners who have been sentenced to less than seven years' imprisonment on parole.