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16 Apr 2020 | 04:59 AM UTC

Gabon: Authorities implement mandatory face mask use in public places April 15 /update 6

Authorities implement mandatory face mask use in public places due to COVID-19 as of April 15; follow government directives



On Friday, April 10, authorities announced that the use of protective face masks will be made mandatory in all public spaces nationwide as of Wednesday, April 15, in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country. Those who do not comply with the new measure will be sanctioned by authorities.

On Friday, April 10, authorities announced the implementation of a 15-day lockdown in the capital Libreville, and the nearby communes of Owendo, Akanda, Ntoum, and Pointe Denis as of Monday, April 13. As such, residents are only permitted to leave their homes for limited reasons, such as obtaining essential goods or seeking healthcare. Those working in industries deemed essential by the government are exempt from the measure. A heightened security presence has been reported in the capital by local media sources to implement the measures.

An increase in burglaries has been reported in Libreville since authorities released 680 inmates on Thursday, April 8, in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Gatherings remain prohibited, schools are closed, and non-essential movements within and between cities has been reduced.

Authorities previously banned all domestic and international flights and closed all land, sea, and air borders except for cargo transportation.

As of Thursday, April 16, there are 80 confirmed COVID-19 cases and one related death nationwide. 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.