I remember the day of March 19, 2020. Angelo and I were in Ambakoana for our monthly data collection when the President of the Republic of Madagascar announced that the virus agent of the Covid19 pandemic was present in the Malagasy territory. We were afraid because according to the speech, the people who tested positive were tourist guides who had come to stay in a Hotel in Moramanga after epidemiological monitoring. According to our calculation, it was the day that Angelo and I were shopping in Moramanga for the fieldwork. Therefore, once we arrived in Tana, we decided to take a test and happily it was negative. On our way back, the roads were very quiet, few cars were driving and few people were out. We were locked down for about six months or so. It was the first wave.
A year later, on March 20, 2021, we were told that the new variant from South Africa is present in Madagascar and that the latter is more serious than the old one. Currently, Antananarivo is experiencing its second wave of pandemic. In comparison to the first, many people are infected and are gravely ill; the deaths keep increasing every day. We are starting to panic because many of our friends and acquaintances are affected and some are already dead. Almost every day we hear bad news in our neighborhood. Faced with this situation, we do our best not to be contaminated (me and my family for example, we use certain essential oils made from Malagasy medicinal plants apart from wearing a mask and social distancing when we are forced to go outside the house). Despite this, some people still don’t wear masks and still gather in groups. But my biggest concern is that our country does not have enough supplies to face the pandemic: hospitals and treatment centers are full, oxygen is not sufficient, and the price for it is climbing from 1,200,000 Ar up to 5,000,000 Ariary. Drugs are also quite expensive when you have to buy them. This is very hard for many Malagasy people.
This pandemic reminds me of the importance of family and friends and that human life can be fragile.
(Image copyright RIJASOLO/AFP, from the hospital of Andohatapenaka, in Antananarivo, July 20, 2020)