As of March 19, Gabon has three confirmed cases of COVID-19. Already the country is taking proactive measures to limit the spread of the virus, including the suspension of all commercial flights. Noureddin Bongo Valentin, general coordinator of presidential affairs and son of President Ali Bongo Odimba, announced on March 18 that the La Santé pharmaceutical factory in Nkok, about twenty kilometers from Libreville, will adapt its production line to make alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel. The factory, which was built in 2019 with investment from India to reduce Gabon’s dependence on imported drugs and the black market, is expected to produce twenty thousand bottles of hand sanitizer every eight hours.
Why It Matters
The COVID-19 virus has had limited impact in Africa compared with the rest of the world, but government leaders and health authorities have been ramping up preventative protocols in the hopes of avoiding a rapid escalation of cases as has been seen in Italy, Spain, and Iran. Many African countries do not have the healthcare infrastructure to meet severe outbreaks, and so any effort to boost public health and prevent infections is crucial.