Gabonese authorities have announced the easing of several coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-related restrictions from Tuesday, October 20, including the reduction of the current nationwide curfew to 22:00-05:00 (local time). The government has also announced that churches and mosques will be permitted to reopen from October 30. Only one day of worship is permitted per week, and all participants must present evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result. Failure to comply with these measures may result in a fine of FCFA 5 million (8976 USD). Local religious leaders have stated that, although pleased with the announcement, they intend to open the churches on October 25 with or without state permission. This could result in clashes between worshippers and security forces who may attempt to enforce the restriction.
The country's state of health emergency was previously extended for 25 days, until at least November 17, to allow time to maintain the current measures aimed at halting the spread of COVID-19. Face masks and social distancing measures remain mandatory in public places. Gabonese authorities further announced that heightened restrictions may be reimplemented in certain areas of the country if new COVID-19 outbreaks occur. Bars, night clubs, and restaurants remain closed.
As of Tuesday, October 20, there have been 8884 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Gabon with 54 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is 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.
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