The gas, which is essential to keep patients suffering from respiratory distress alive, is becoming scarce in the island nation of Madagascar, where the South African variant has surfaced.Madagascar is in a bad position, apparently gasping for oxygen.
To date, according to the African Union’s African Center for Disease Control (CDC), there are 35,548 cases and 620 deaths on the island.
In recent weeks, infections have soared to the point that hotels and schools have been turned into hospitals.
This second wave of Covid-19 has created an oxygen shortage in the country’s health facilities.
Many families, who are not resigned to the idea of letting their patients die because of a lack of respiratory assistance, are bleeding to fill empty gas cylinders.
Faced with this situation, President Andry Rajoelina has sent “an Air Madagascar aircraft to China to collect oxygen bottles.”
The arrival of this plane is scheduled for this weekend.
The objective, according to the head of state, “is to save the lives of Malagasy and to ensure that no fellow citizen dies for lack of oxygen.”
On Wednesday 28 April, the Malagasy president also received “2,000 oxygen concentrators in addition to the 2,400 imported last year.”
The precious machines, according to the government, “are immediately sent to the most affected regions, including Vakinankaratra, Hauta Matsiatra and Sava”.
Since 19 April, the state of health emergency has been extended for fifteen days on the island.
To break the chain of contamination, entries and exits are prohibited in the quarantined regions.
In addition, the authorities have decided that the burial of people who have died of the new coronavirus “must be held on the day of death, with a limit of 10 people”.
Under the regulation “common cemeteries will be set up in each district.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, Andry Rajoelina bet everything on Covid Organics, an artemisia-based tea, presented as a miracle remedy.
One year later, the 46-year-old president is paying the price.
For even though Madagascar “is already part of the Covax initiative” guaranteeing access to vaccines for disadvantaged countries, the first doses for the Malagasy public are not expected until July 2021.
In the meantime, the government is studying “other avenues” to provide vaccines “as quickly as possible.”
For the moment, the National Academy of Medicine of Madagascar (ANAMEN) has selected four vaccines: Covishield (AstraZeneca), Pfizer, Sinopharm and Johnson & Johnson.