Madagascar's Prime Minister Christian Ntsay announced on Sunday, September 20, that the country's state of health emergency in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has been extended by 15 days until October 4. The announcement comes amid the easing of COVID-19-related restrictions in the country in recent weeks following a fall in the rate of new infections.
Following an approach that saw tighter restrictions implemented in areas with higher COVID-19 transmission rates, including the capital, restrictions have been eased in the Analamanga, Alaotra Mangoro, Diana, Sava, and Vakinankaratra regions to allow gatherings of up to 100 people for cultural, sporting and religious events. Most businesses, including taxi operators, have been allowed to extend their hours to 21:00 (local time) and inter-provincial travel restrictions were lifted between Analamanga and the Boeny, Sofia, Atsimo-Atsinanana, Aloatra Mongoro, Vatovavy-Fitovinany, Menabe, Melaky, and Anosy regions. However, a 23:00 - 04:00 curfew remains in place in the Analamanga, Diana, Sava, and Boeny regions and travel suspended between Analamanga, Diana, and Sava.
Nationally, bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues are permitted to operate until 22:00, while schools are scheduled to reopen on October 26 and universities and colleges from November 2. Face masks and social distancing measures remain mandatory in public places.
All international and regional commercial air travel, with the exception of cargo and humanitarian flights, to Madagascar remains suspended until further notice and there are currently few international travel options to or from the country. However, authorities have stated that the island of Nosy Be may be permitted to accept tourists from October 1, providing they do not travel to other areas of the country.
As of Monday, September 21, health authorities have reported 16,073 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Madagascar, with 225 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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