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Madagascar Citizens Found Not Wearing Masks Forced to Clean Streets

FILE - Locals, some wearing masks, have their bottles filled with a herbal extract they believe will protect them from COVID-19, in Antananarivo, Madagascar, April 23, 2020.

Police in Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, are enforcing new rules requiring citizens to wear coronavirus masks outside their homes by forcing violators to clean city streets.

The new rule went into effect Monday, and citizens who were caught ignoring it could be seen in the city sweeping streets and picking up garbage.

President Andry Rajoelina has made it compulsory to wear face coverings outdoors in the capital and other major cities as a condition for the gradual lifting of lockdown measures in those areas.

Authorities had warned citizens that those leaving the house without masks would face community service.

Gen. Elak Olivier Andriakaja, leader of the anti-coronavirus operations, told Madagascar television that 70% of the people out and about in the capital obeyed the rule.

He said the government had made efforts to raise awareness of the new rules before the sanctions took effect, so he saw no problem with enforcing them.

Police told the French news agency AFP that about 500 people were penalized on Monday for violating the rule, with 25 sentenced on the spot to sweep the streets.

As of Tuesday, the Indian Ocean island-nation has detected 128 cases of COVID-19. No fatalities have been recorded so far and 75 patients have recovered.