El Salvador crams prisoners together in lockdown

Shaved, chained and crammed into prisons.

El Salvador's government has ignored social distancing and forced prisoner members of rival gangs to be in shared cells.

Tattoos mark their allegiance to different gangs, but here they are subject to the same tightened restrictions, in a bid to break up lines of communication between members of the same group.

The Central American country reported 24 homicides on Friday (April 24) the worst one-day toll since Nayib Bukele took presidential office in June, prompting him to order a 24-hour lockdown in prisons housing gang members.

Deputy Security Minister Osiris Luna announced the tougher restrictions:

(SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) SALVADORAN DEPUTY SECURITY MINISTER, OSIRIS LUNA, SAYING:

"They will not receive sunlight, they will be in total confinement 24 hours a day in the 7 maximum security prisons that there are in this country. This was an order from President Nayib Bukele. We are complying with that order."

By Sunday, another 29 murders were reported, prompting Bukele to introduce tougher measures as he said gangs were taking advantage of security forces - busy helping to contain the virus outbreak.

Over 12, 000 gang members are incarcerated in El Salvador.