AUTHORITIES in Madagascar are struggling to contain an outbreak of plague that has killed two dozen people.

A ban has been imposed on large public gatherings in the capital to curb the disease’s spread.

The dead include a basketball coach from the Seychelles who was participating in a tournament in Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo.

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Five people have died of plague in the capital, reported L’Express de Madagascar, a daily newspaper.

The government has begun a campaign to disinfect school classrooms in the city, compelling students to stay at home in the coming days.

Many people have bought surgical masks and other medical supplies in large quantities, raising concerns about a shortage of medicine.

A jazz festival, Madajazzcar, cancelled its opening concert in Antananarivo this week and suspended other events until further notice.

Plague has also been reported in the port city of Toamasina in eastern Madagascar and other cities.

At least 114 people have been infected with plague and the disease is affecting large urban areas unlike like past outbreaks, increasing the risk of transmission, said the World Health Organisation.

The WHO is sending more staff and supplies,to the island country off the coast of East Africa.