Curfews introduced in multiple areas of Madagascar to control the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were lifted on Monday, October 5, following a fall in the rate of new infections in recent weeks. Curfew restrictions had initially been introduced nationwide under the country's state of health emergency in March before being partially eased in June, with the 22:00 to 04:00 curfew remaining in place in designated virus hotspots. The lifting of the curfew means that targeted restrictions have been eased in areas with higher COVID-19 transmission rates, including the Analamanga, Alaotra Mangoro, Diana, Sava, and Vakinankaratra regions.
Authorities have also announced the easing of public gathering restrictions from Monday, permitting groups of up to 200 to gather for religious, cultural, and sporting events. Schools, entertainment venues, and sports facilities have also been authorized to resume normal operations with appropriate hygiene and distancing measures in place. However, the use of face masks remains compulsory in public places.
International and regional commercial air travel restrictions have also been partially eased in recent days, with international flights being permitted to resume from Nosy Be International Airport on October 1. Domestic flights have also resumed, with passengers required to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from within 48 hours prior to their departure, and regional flights from other islands in the Indian Ocean region will be permitted from October 29. However, those arriving into Nosy Be are prohibited from leaving the island and it is currently unclear when international flights to the mainland will resume.
Despite the easing of restrictions, Madagascar's state of health emergency has been extended by a further 15 days until October 18.
As of Tuesday, October 6, health authorities have reported 16,570 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Madagascar, with 233 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.