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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09LIBREVILLE392 2009-08-24 14:11:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Libreville
Cable title:  

GABON: FIRST CASE OF H1N1 CONFIRMED

Tags:   ECON KFLU TBIO EAID GB 
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VZCZCXRO9689
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHLC #0392/01 2361411
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 241411Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY LIBREVILLE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1378
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LIBREVILLE 000392 

SIPDIS

AF/C FOR LISA KORTE, DEPARTMENT FOR M/MED, AF/W, OES/PCI,
OES/IHB, AIAG

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/24/2019
TAGS: ECON KFLU TBIO EAID GB
SUBJECT: GABON: FIRST CASE OF H1N1 CONFIRMED

Classified By: AMB EUNICE REDDICK FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D)

-------
SUMMARY
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1. (C) Gabon recently suffered its first confirmed case of
H1N1 (Influenza A) Swine Flu, resulting in heightened public
awareness and the development of a multi-Ministry committee
to respond to the threat, while neighboring island country
So Tome & Principe remains surprisingly aggressive in their
efforts to combat and prevent the pandemic from reaching its
shores. END SUMMARY.


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H1N1 Hits Gabon


--------------------------




2. (C) On August 6, Gabon publically confirmed its first
case of H1N1 influenza in the southern city of Port-Gentil.
The subject is a 43 year old French national whose wife is
Gabonese. Upon returning to their residence after a holiday
which included transit through South Africa, the man took ill
on July 23rd. Symptoms required hospitalization and 48 hours
later he was transferred to a Libreville hospital, where he
has been quarantined since the diagnosis was confirmed by the
International Center of Medical Research in Franceville. No
other cases have been confirmed in Gabon. Although
government sectors had been mobilized after the pandemic was
evident earlier this year, a new urgency and greater
publicity have led the government to ramp up its efforts to
contain and prevent the spread of the illness within Gabonese
borders.


3. (C) The World Health Organization (WHO) has set up a
crisis management unit in the Republic of Congo
(Brazzaville), with a surveillance site in Gabon for
monitoring the pandemic. They also have placed a doctor,
Obiang Eya,a, in Gabon to work with authorities in preparing
and responding to the threat. The WHO has donated two kits
of protective treatment, 1056 treatments of Tamiflu, and 10
insulated boxes for transporting samples thus far. Gabon has
stated they would like to increase their antiviral stock and
improve equipment with WHO assistance.



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GABONESE READINESS


--------------------------




4. (SBU) Gabon has created a committee to work hand-in-hand
with public health organizations. It includes members of
various ministries to address the need to confront the
epidemic on all fronts. Currently participating are the
Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of
Tourism, and Ministry of Public Health & Hygiene.


5. (SBU) Early Gabonese response was panicked, resulting
in a temporary ban upon the sale of pigs in May. Now, the
reaction is more measured and built upon existing
preventative measures Gabon had designed to respond to the
threat of avian flu. The heart of the Gabonese strategy is
securing ports of entry into the country. Ferries, airports,
and shipyards are targeted for prevention. Currently,
surveillance is the main defense, with workers and port
authorities being instructed on detecting signs of the flu
among the public and workers. The second goal, claims the
government, is to collect information at the ports of entry
to help contain the spread of H1N1 if it appears, although at
the airports, at least, no additional measures are apparent
to travelers.


6. (SBU) Gabon,s preventative response is similar to other
countries,*promotion of measures such as hand washing, good
hygiene and cleanliness, and heightened awareness of symptoms
in others. The government committee is also conducting a
series of seminars to better inform health and port-of-entry
workers.


--------------------------


SAO TOME SETS EXAMPLE


--------------------------




7. (C) While Gabon,s response to the H1N1 threat has been
reactionary, the island nation of Sao Tome and Principe (STP)
has had a comprehensive policy in place since June. Perhaps
due to its economic reliance on tourism, STP,s Ministry of
Health prepared an aggressive plan before the pandemic was
considered global. Given the country,s limited financial
resources, their preparedness is all the more impressive.
WHO has provided the Ministry of Health with Tamiflu and Sao
Tome has requested additional training and medical equipment
to confront the consequences of an epidemic.

LIBREVILLE 00000392 002 OF 002




8. (C) In a detailed 18 page action plan, STP lays out its
strategies for addressing the H1N1 pandemic. In addition to
radio and television spots promoting good hygiene, the plan
calls for training of workers in the inspection of animals
and food and at ports of entry, special instruction for
medical lab technicians, and includes contingencies in the
event of a single case or full-blown epidemic on the island.
Medical stock increases, including enough Tamiflu for 10% of
the population, is called for, as well as surgical masks for
25%.


9. (SBU) Upon arrival at the Sao Tome airport, every
traveler is required to fill out a form stating where they
can be reached during their stay, and everyone is required to
be screened by a health official prior to entry. Also
included on the form is a question regarding whether anyone
on the airplane had a cough, sneezed, or seemed ill. The
government states these forms are retained for ten days in
the event that a passenger is diagnosed with H1N1, so they
can contact and minimize the spread of the virus by
containing those exposed.


--------------------------


COMMENT


--------------------------




10. (C) Despite the recent introduction of the H1N1 virus
within Gabonese borders, it is not yet considered a
significant threat. The only country on the African
continent that currently shows H1N1 to be the dominant
influenza strain is South Africa, and the relative isolation
of Gabon and Sao Tome & Principe appears to have insulated
these countries for the moment. However, August is the
traditional month of holidays for the expatriate population
in the region, and with an increased number of travelers
transiting Europe, it seems likely that the number of cases
will increase. Local response appears sufficient to address
this eventuality. END COMMENT.
REDDICK