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Sat, 07 Oct 2017 12:01 - Updated Sat, 07 Oct 2017 12:01

Madagascar plague outbreak forces universities to close, jail visits banned

Authorities in Madagascar ordered the closure of two universities as a temporary measure to halt a plague outbreak that has claimed over thirty lives so far.

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The capital Antananarivo and the port city of Toamasina have been at the centre of the plague outbreak. “In the fight against the spread of plague, the universities of Toamasina and Antananarivo will be closed for sanitation,” the Ministry of Higher Education said in a statement.

The campus in the capital is likely to be reopened next week even though public gatherings in the city will remain banned.

To prevent the spread of the plague, prison authorities on Friday also reported a ban on jail visits. “In order to protect prisoners from the plague that is spreading outside the prison, we have decided to suspend family visits,” Prisons Administrator Arsen Ralisaona is quoted as saying.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and partners have since scaled up efforts to arrest the situation in the Indian Ocean nation which suffers such outbreaks annually.

The outbreak includes bubonic plague, which is spread by infected rats via flea bites, and pneumonic plague, which spreads from person to person.

Pneumonic plague can kill quickly, within 18 to 24 hours of infection if left untreated, but it can be cured by early use of antibiotics. Long queues have formed outside pharmacies as people flock to buy face masks and medicine. Africanews

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