Gabon's state of emergency imposed amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic expires at midnight (local time) on Monday, May 11, but the government has confirmed that restrictions put in place to control the spread of COVID-19 will continue after a law was passed by Parliament regarding the government of health disasters. The bill was passed in the National Assembly on Saturday, May 9, and gives the government powers similar to those exercised during the state of emergency for a further 45 days.
Restrictions on movement, a nationwide curfew from 19:30 to 06:00, and the mandatory wearing of face masks are among the measures that will continue to be imposed. Gatherings remain prohibited, schools are closed, and nonessential movements within and between cities has been reduced. Those working in industries deemed essential by the government are exempt from the measures. Local media sources reported that a heightened security presence has been deployed in the capital to enforce the measures.
On Tuesday, April 28, the Gabonese government eased lockdown measures in the Grand Libreville area, including the communes of Libreville, Owendo, Akanda, Ntoum, and the Pointe-Denis peninsula. The new measures replaced a total lockdown with a curfew between the hours of 17:00 and 07:00. Residents of Grand Libreville are to remain isolated from the rest of Gabon, with fines enforceable for violation of restrictions.
Authorities previously banned all domestic and international flights and closed all land, sea, and air borders except for cargo transportation.
As of May 11, health authorities have confirmed 661 cases of COVID-19 in Gabon, as well as eight related deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.