Coronavirus cases have been increasing rapidly in Madagascar, and hospitals, having reached full capacity, are only accepting patients with severe symptoms.

Health officials in the Indian Ocean island nation say hospitalizations increased over the last week.

‘’We have up to six new patients per day,’’ local daily L’express de Madagascar quoted an official from the Andohatapenaka University Hospital as saying on Thursday. ‘’For us, a patient is considered a severe case when they are on oxygen.’’

Several patients with respiratory distress occupy beds in hospitals across the country. ”There are only a few places left.”

Prof. Gaetan Duval Solofomalala, secretary general of the Ministry of Public Health, said they will be able to accommodate patients with severe symptoms only when they receive oxygen cylinders and other equipment for the new Ivato and Alarobia treatment centers.

Earlier this month, President Andre Rajoelina inaugurated new coronavirus treatment centers amid rising cases.

Health professionals also urged the people to start treatment as soon as symptoms such as fever and dry cough appear.

“Do not wait for your condition to get worse to see a doctor,” Dr. Rado Razafimahatratra from the Anosiala University Hospital said.

The island country, approximately 400 kilometers (248 miles) off the coast of East Africa, has recorded 8,162 virus cases so far, including 69 deaths and 4,662 recoveries, according to the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

In April, President Rajoelina launched the CVO — an organic herbal concoction — claiming that it can prevent and cure virus patients. Covid-Organics contains extracts of the artemisia annua plant, which is used to treat malaria.

On July 5, he re-imposed a total lockdown in the Analamanga region till July 26. An initial lockdown in March was lifted after four weeks.

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