Malagasy authorities confirmed the country's first coronavirus disease (COVID-19) related death on Sunday, May 17. The patient was a 57-year-old hospital worker with underlying health conditions. As a precautionary measure, the government has advised the public to strictly observe containment measures, especially in the regions of Analamanga, Atsinanana and Haute Matsiatra.
The state of emergency, originally due to expire on May 17, will be extended through Sunday, May 31, due to a rise in infections. Under the state of emergency, air traffic is suspended until further notice, face mask use in public places is mandatory, and travel is allowed between 06:00 and 13:00 (local time) except within the cities of Tananarive and Tamatave. Professional activities are allowed from 04:00 to 13:00 (local time) nationwide.
Malagasy President Andry Rajoelina began easing lockdown measures in the cities of Antananarivo, Toamasina, and Fianarantsoa on April 20, following the reported successful domestic testing of a remedy for the virus, against the advice of the World Health Organization (WHO) which stated that there is no current cure for COVID-19.
As of May 17, there are 304 confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide, including one associated fatality. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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