Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest

Situation Report
Madagascar — Trends

State of Health Emergency extended

  • First case: 20 March 2020

  • Total cases: 3,472 (as of 7 July 2020)

  • Total deaths: 33

  • Schools: Closed in specific areas, including Toamasina Town, the rest of the country opened since 22 April.

  • Borders/Flights:  The Government of Madagascar announced a suspension of all international air travel starting 20 March.

  • Containment measures: 14-day quarantine mandatory for individuals who have had possible exposure to COVID-19; Restrictions on movements on the most affected regions of the country, including the capital Antananarivo, Tamatave, Fianarantsoa and Alaotra Mangoro regions.

Situation:

In Madagascar, the total number of people who contracted COVID-19 raised to nearly 3,500 as of 7 July. The Government announced the fifth extension of the State of Emergency for another 15 additional days until 11 July, and maintained a partial containment the districts of Moramanga, Fenerive Est, Toamasina I and II. The Council of Ministers on 5 July declared a 15-day full lockdown in the capital, Antananarivo, until 20 July, following a spike in the number of COVID-19 infections in the city. According to the Ministry of Defence, 500 military forces were going to be mobilized to ensure the respect of all measures related to the full lockdown, and 3,000 others will be on stand-by. International flights, except humanitarian, repatriation and cargo flights, remain suspended until 31 July.

President Andry Rajoelina informed that the country would move to the clinic phase of the investigations to transform the COVID Organics tonic into a drug, which includes injecting the product into patients. The herbal product made with Artemisia annua was launched on 20 April by the President as a cure for the virus and is being distributed in schools and communities across the country. Since then, political parties and medical authorities in the country have been asking for more tests before distributing the product, and asked for an official position from WHO. On 3 May, WHO published a press release welcoming innovations around the world, including traditional medicines, as part of the search for potential treatments for COVID-19, and warning about the risks of using products that have not been robustly investigated. The document specifically highlights that the use of medicinal plants such as Artemisia annua as treatment for COVID-19 should be tested for efficacy and adverse side effects. The Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Kwesi Quartey, in a tweet published on 13 May informed that the Madagascar's Health Ministry had agreed to collaborate with the Africa Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC) to investigate the remedy.

Madagascar has the fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition among children under age 5 in the world, and has been buffeted by floods and drought in recent months. Across the country, more than 567,700 children are no longer receiving vital school feeding, according to WFP.  

Response:

  • Key measures include: (i) increased spending on epidemic prevention and control; (ii) cash-transfers and in-kind necessities to the poorest and those unemployed; and (iii) tax relief, suspension of government fees and waived social contributions.

  • On 12 March 2020, the World Bank provided a grant of US$3.7 million to strengthen prevention against the COVID-19 pandemic, purchase materials and equipment, and train health workers. On 2 April, the World Bank approved $100 million Development Policy Operation (DPO) for budget support to improve the human capital. On 3 April 2020, the IMF approved a disbursement under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF), equivalent to US$165.9 million, to meet the external financing gaps arising from COVID-19.

  • The United Nations and partners have launched a three-month Emergency Appeal calling for $82.3 million to rapidly contain COVID-19 in the country and support millions of people affected by the humanitarian consequences of the pandemic. The Appeal includes support to the country’s weak health system to respond to the outbreak and maintain other basic health services, as well as rapid interventions to provide life-saving and life-sustaining assistance and protection to those most at-risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Official sources:

Ministry of Health Facebook Page and President Official Twitter

Government COVID-19 Official webpage

Other links:

Containment measures extended, by Orange Madagascar

U.S. Embassy Madagascar and Comoros COVID-19 Information

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Responses to COVID-19, by IMF

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