Hunger foces Madagascans to defy lockdown amid virus outbreak


World, Africa

Madagascar so far has 12 cases of coronavirus

A man wearing a protective mask rides a bicycle, in Antananarivo, Madagascar. AFP Photo

The fear of hunger propelled vendor Jean Naina Rakotomamonjy to defy a lockdown imposed in Madagascar's capital to curb the spread of coronavirus.

"I need to find something for my family to eat today," said the 53-year-old father of three, who sells seafood in the capital Antananarivo, where citizens have been ordered by the president to "stay at home".

The same order applies in the island nation's second city Toamasina.

"I know the coronavirus can kill. But if I stay home for 15 days, I will die as well," he said.

The vendor was not the only one to defy the new measures announced by President Andry Rajoelina late on Sunday.

At the crack of dawn, the usual horde of hawkers and hustlers were out and about in Antananarivo's narrow streets.

"I do not have the means to save money and stock up on provisions," said Rakotomamonjy, who managed to get on a minibus before armed soldiers put up roadblocks and ordered public transport to turn back.

The poor Indian Ocean nation has so far detected 12 cases of the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 340,000 people worldwide and killed over 15,000.

"Those who don't respect these measures will suffer severe penalties," the president warned in a televised broadcast on Sunday night.