Madagascar hospitals 'overwhelmed' with rise in coronavirus infections

Hospital officials in Madagascar's capital Antananarivo, say they are struggling to cope with a rush of coronavirus patients, despite the distribution of a herbal drink the president has been promoting.

A record 614 new cases have been confirmed in the last day, bringing the total to 8,162 and 69 deaths.

President Andry Rajoelina has been promoting an infusion derived from artemisia - a plant with proven anti-malarial properties -- as a homegrown cure for Covid-19.

On Monday the minister for health wrote an open letter to aid agencies asking for equipment like testing kits, respirators and protective equipment for health workers.

Earlier this month President Andry Rajoelina re-imposed a lockdown on the central region until 26 July, allowing only one person per household to go out for food and medicine.

Infections have spiked over recent days, however, raising concern in a country where three-quarters of the population live on less than $1.90 per day, according to the World Bank.

The government, meanwhile, has blamed the rise in cases on "increased testing capacity".