Malagasy President Andry Rajoelina announced on Sunday, March 22, that the country's two main cities, Antananarivo and Toamasina, will be locked down from Monday, March 23, to prevent further spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). All individuals are required to stay at home and all transport, except for goods, will be prohibited. Only essential businesses, such as food stores and banks, will be allowed to remain open, and only one person per family will be allowed to shop. The government has also implemented an overnight curfew from 20:00 to 05:00 (local time). On Saturday, March 21, the Government of Madagascar declared a Health State of Emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Schools, administrative offices, churches, bars, and restaurants have been ordered to close, while sporting and cultural events have been canceled as a precautionary measure.
A 30-day suspension on all international flights to and from Madagascar remains in place as of Friday, March 20. Cruise ships continue to be prohibited from entering any port in the country as of Sunday, 15 March, also for a period of 30 days.
As of Tuesday, March 24, authorities have confirmed at least 12 cases of COVID-19 in Madagascar. Further spread of the virus 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.