Gabonese authorities announced that the country's state of health emergency has been extended through December 14, in efforts to halt the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). All current restrictions in place remain. Heightened restrictions may be reimplemented in certain areas of the country if new COVID-19 outbreaks occur.
Authorities previously reduced the nationwide curfew to 22:00-05:00 (local time). Churches and mosques have been permitted to reopen; 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). Face masks and social distancing measures remain mandatory in public places. Beaches, bars, and night clubs remain closed. Hotels have reopened, as have restaurants with terraces; visitors to these establishments are required to provide a valid negative COVID-19 test to gain access. Markets have reopened. Public transportation has resumed nationwide with limits on capacity; taxis are permitted to operate with up to three passengers. Gatherings of more than 30 people are banned; however, parliament and educational institutions are exempt.
International flight services have resumed but remain limited. Those arriving at Libreville International Airport (LBV) will undergo COVID-19 testing and then will be required to self-isolate for at least 48 hours as test results are processed. Further testing will be required. Those arriving at other airports will be required to present a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test obtained no more than five days prior to arrival. Similarly, domestic flights have resumed with limited operations; four flights are permitted per airline per week. Travel outside Libreville to inland Gabon is permitted so long as travelers acquire a negative COVID-19 test obtained within 14 days prior to travel. Land and sea borders remain closed to international travel; however, repatriation of citizens and legal residents and freight transport services, including those for food, oil, and gas may continue.
As of Thursday, November 26, there have been 9173 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Gabon and 59 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). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
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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