Geneva/Antananarivo, 18 October The Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Elhadj As Sy, arrives later today in Madagascar as the Red Cross response to the plague outbreak continues.

Mr Sy will spend Thursday 19 October meeting with Red Cross officials and volunteers involved in the response, as well as senior government figures. Mr Sy will announce a major international appeal for Madagascar.

According to the Malagasy government, more than 800 cases of plague have been reported. Seventy-four people have died. More than 70 per cent of all cases are pneumonic plague – the most virulent form of the bacteria.

IFRC has deployed equipment for a plague treatment centre to Madagascar that is expected to arrive in the coming days. The organization has also released 1 million Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief and Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the initial scale up of response efforts.

More than 2,660 Malagasy Red Cross volunteers are being mobilized, and are already playing a critical role in community surveillance and contact tracing efforts.

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