Malagasy President Andry Rajoelina announced on Sunday, April 5, that the nationwide state of emergency, which was due to end on April 5, will be extended for two weeks as part of efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The state of emergency includes the closure of all non-essential businesses, the suspension of public transport and a nationwide curfew from 20:00-05:00 (local time). The closure of schools, universities, churches and concert halls remain closed and public gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited.
Authorities also announced that the lockdown measures currently in place in the capital Antananarivo and Toamasina will be extended for two weeks and that the city of Fianarantsoa will also introduce lockdown measures for this period. Only vehicles transporting goods may circulate between those areas and there will be no taxis and no other public transportation (taxibes). All individuals in these locations must wear face masks in public.
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 Monday, April 6, authorities have confirmed 72 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.