Madagascar's Prime Minister Christian Ntsay announced on Saturday, August 8, that the country's state of health emergency in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has been extended by 15 days until August 23. The emergency measures had been due to expire on Sunday, August 9. However, the measures have been extended following a continued rise in COVID-19 cases in the region in recent weeks.
It is currently unclear whether the enhanced lockdown in the Analamanga region, which includes the capital Antananarivo, has also been extended. The restrictions, which were introduced on July 6 due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the region, include a 20:00 to 04:00 (local time) curfew, the suspension of public transport, regional movement restrictions, and the compulsory use of face masks in public. The enhanced lockdown in the region had also been extended until August 9 after some measures were eased at the end of July, but the lifting of restrictions was not confirmed in Ntsay's latest statement.
Local lockdowns in the Toamasina I and II, Moramanga and Fénérive-Est districts due to COVID-19 clusters were eased at the end of July, with the extension of restricted working hours and easing of limits on public transport. However, a 22:00 to 04:00 curfew and ban on gatherings of more than 50 people remain in place in the districts.
Most COVID-19 restrictions in Madagascar have been focused on the country's main outbreak centers, but local authorities may implement local measures, including travel restrictions, in any area of the country.
All international and regional flights to Madagascar remain suspended until further notice and there are currently few international travel options to or from the country.
As of August 9, health authorities have reported 13,086 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Madagascar, with 148 associated deaths. Further spread of the virus is 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). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
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 your 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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