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18 Mar 2020 | 02:35 AM UTC

Gabon: Authorities limit gatherings and non-essential services March 16 /update 3

Authorities ban gatherings of more than 30 people and limit non-essential services due to COVID-19 as of March 16; other containment measures in place

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Event

The Government of Gabon has reportedly banned gatherings of more than 30 people from Monday, March 16, to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Local media outlets reported on Monday that aviation authorities are restricting international flight arrivals to one per week per company. Government officials also announced the restriction of travel to and from countries designated as "high risk." Gabonese nationals and residents returning from such countries with symptoms of the virus are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine. 

The government announced on Friday, March 13, that it will suspend tourist visas for areas most affected by the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This includes the European Union, China, South Korea, and the US. Officials also announced the closure of all schools until Monday, March 30, as well as the closure of restaurants, bars, and places of worship until further notice. 

As of Wednesday, March 18, there are three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Gabon. Further spread of the virus is expected in the near term. 

Context

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.

Advice

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.