CAPE TOWN – Twenty-five people in Madagascar were sentenced to sweep the streets of Antananarivo, the island’s capital, after law enforcement officials caught them outdoors without a face mask.

President Andry Rajoelina enforced a law which came into effect on April 27, ordering people in three cities to wear a face covering to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Images were widely circulated on social media of the 25 people who defied the new law, who had embarrassed looks on their faces as they swept the dusty streets of Antananarivo.

A further 500 people were penalised in Antananarivo and Fianarantsoa as a result of disobeying the new law, according to police deputy head Christian Rakotobe.

The new law was announced on April 20 along with campaigns to educate the public and distribute face coverings. The announcement was made early to warn citizens of the consequences of not wearing a face mask when they are outside in the cities of Antananarivo, Fianarantsoa and Toamasina.

The country is gradually lifting lockdown regulations in the three cities and introducing measures to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Head of anti-coronavirus operations General Elak Olivier Andriakaja said on state television that a week’s warning was enough and that sanctions now needed to be applied.

“Seventy percent of people on the street respected the rule … because they are scared of having to sweep pavements.”

As of April 28, the island nation has 128 confirmed cases of Covid-19. The first case was reported on March 20. There are no deaths as a result of the virus and there have been 75 recoveries in total.

African News Agency 

By Crispin Adriaanse