President Andry Rajoelina announced on Sunday, August 23, that the national state of health emergency, in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), will be extended for a further 15 days through September 7. Rajoelina also announced the easing of some measures and restrictions to begin despite the extension.
In the capital Antananarivo and the Analamanga region, and in Moramanga (Alaotra-Mangoro region), supermarkets will be permitted to open from 06:00 to 18:00 (local time). Restaurants will also be permitted to allow dine-in services, with a 50 percent capacity. Most business operations will resume until 18:00. A nightly curfew will be in force between 22:00 and 04:00.
Public transportation will resume services from Wednesday, August 26. According to media sources, buses will be permitted to operate until 20:00. Inter-city travel will be permitted with some restrictions and the national roads connecting Antananarivo to the Atsinanana region, including to Toamasina, will reopen. Individuals will be required to wear face masks on public transport, and drivers will be required to wear visors. Regular disinfection and hygiene measures will be mandatory for public transportation companies to enforce.
Authorities also announced that domestic flights providing connections between Antananarivo and Sambava, Antsiranana, Tolagnaro, Toliara, Nosy Be, Toamasina, Mahajanga, Sainte Marie, Maroantsetra, and Morondava, will begin to operate from September 1. Travelers will be required to provide a negative PCR test acquired less than 48 hours prior to their departure. Additional screening measures will also be implemented. International flight operations remain suspended.
A ban on gatherings of more than 50 people will continue and cultural and sporting events remain prohibited. Funeral services and vigils also remain prohibited.
As of Monday, August 24, there have been 14,327 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Madagascar with 178 associated fatalities. 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). 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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