Volunteers prepare free bags of dry ration for people in at a distribution center during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Karachi on March 30, 2020. (Photo by ASIF HASSAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Monday (30) halted the release of hundreds of prisoners who were supposed to be set free in an attempt to stem the spread of coronavirus in the country’s overcrowded jails, local media reported.

Several high courts, including the Islamabad High Court, last week, had ordered the release of over 500 under-trial prisoners and those already sentenced for their involvement in petty crimes, to reduce burden on the jails.

Coronavirus is a serious issue but the decisions taken in haste and fear won’t work,” Chief Justice of Supreme Court Gulzar Ahmed remarked, according to local broadcaster Geo News.

The top court declared that the high courts did not take the complainants’ view into consideration while ordering the release of the prisoners.

The two-member bench also barred all the high courts, and the provincial governments from passing any such order.

It summoned the concerned government officials to hear their view on the matter, and adjourned the hearing until Wednesday.

Pakistan on Monday reported two other deaths from the virus, bringing the tally to 18 in the country, an official said.

There are 1,625 confirmed COVID-19 patients in the country with 99 new cases over the last 24 hours.