Prisoners riot in Iran, Netanyahu isolates

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in self-isolation after being tested for coronavirus.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in self-isolation after being tested for coronavirus.

Prisoners in southern Iran have broken cameras and caused other damage during a riot, state media reported, the latest in a series of violent prison disturbances in the country, which is battling the most severe coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East.

Israel, meanwhile, announced that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would enter self-isolation after an aide tested positive for the virus.

His office said the 70-year-old leader had undergone a test and would remain in isolated until he received results or was cleared by the health ministry and his personal doctor. His close advisers are also isolating.

In a televised address, Netanyahu called on Israelis to remain at home and avoid family gatherings during the holiday season. The Jewish holiday of Passover, the Christian holiday of Easter and the month-long Muslim holiday of Ramadan fall in April.

Netanyahu said the government would discuss possible further restrictions on gatherings of more than two people, a ban on public worship and an 80 billion shekel ($A36 billion) economic rescue plan.

More than 4600 Israelis have been infected and 16 have died.

Iran had temporarily released about 100,000 prisoners as part of measures taken to contain the pandemic, leaving an estimated 50,000 people behind bars, including violent offenders and "security cases", often dual nationals and others with Western ties.

The IRNA news agency reported a riot broke out at Adel Abad Prison in Shiraz, breaking cameras and causing other damage. No one was wounded and no one escaped.

IRNA reported on Friday that 70 inmates had escaped Saqqez Prison in Kurdistan province. Riots have also broken out in prisons in Aligudarz, Hamedan and Tabriz since the beginning of the year.

Iran has reported more than 40,000 infections and 2757 deaths, including 117 fatalities in the past 24 hours.

In Lebanon, a court ordered the release of 46 prisoners being held without trial to protect them from getting infected, state-run media reported. Lebanon has reported 446 cases and 11 deaths from the virus.

Elsewhere in the region, Jordan began releasing thousands of travellers who were quarantined for the past two weeks at five-star hotels on the Dead Sea.

Jordan has reported 268 infections and five deaths from the virus.

In Egypt, the government extended the closure of the country's museums and archaeological sites, including the Pyramids and the Sphinx at Giza, until at least April 15.

Authorities still plan to light up the pyramids on Monday night in support of health workers battling the virus.

Egypt has reported 656 infections and 41 deaths.

Australian Associated Press