More than a million doses of antibiotics have been delivered by the World Health Organization to fight an outbreak of plague in Madagascar which has killed at least 33 people.
The authorities have also banned prison visits in the two worst affected areas to prevent the spread of the disease.
The risk of contamination is high in overcrowded and unsanitary jails.
There has recently been criticism of the government’s perceived slow reaction to the outbreak.
The health ministry says the latest bout of plague has infected about 230 people – in addition to those who have died – in just two months. There are normally about 400 cases of plague every year in the country.
This year however the majority of cases are of pneumonic plague, which affects the lungs and is transmitted through coughing. It is considered to be the most deadly form of the disease and can be fatal within 24 hours.
The less deadly bubonic plague is often spread by rodents fleeing forest fires. Humans usually become ill after being bitten by infected fleas.
Public gatherings have been banned in response to the latest outbreak.
A specialised hospital in the capital Antananarivo is struggling to cope with the influx of ill people, local media reported, with long queues outside for face masks and medicine.
This year urban areas have been affected, a development that has worried aid agencies in a country not renowned for a robust healthcare system.
“Plague is curable if detected in time. Our teams are working to ensure that everyone at risk has access to protection and treatment. The faster we move, the more lives we save,” WHO Madagascar Representative Charlotte Ndiaye said in a statement.