Gabon Upgrades Labs, Reinforces Testing Capacity

As Gabon is battling with the outbreak of the British variant of the COVID-19 virus, the government is upgrading the testing capacity of its laboratories.

The Gabon government has stepped up the country’s capacity to carry out COVID-19 testing by upgrading existing laboratories.

Gabon registered its first case of the British variant of COVID-19 in mid February this year. 

Since then, the government of President Ali Bongo has decided to reinforce the detection capacity of most of its laboratories.

The government has provided the Centre de Recherches Medicales de Lambarene (CERMEL) with sequencing equipment presented as one of the most performant in the world right now. Only the Centre Interdisciplinaire de recherches medicales de Franceville (CIRMF) was before now in possession of the said equipment.

“This is a reinforcement of our network of laboratories in charge of COVID-19 diagnostics with the effect of the best surveillance of the epidemiological situation of our country,” announced the pilot committee for the fight against the coronavirus  (COPIL).

The COPIL said that as of Saturday, March 20, the country had carried out 598,479 tests since the beginning of the health crisis last year, with 17,711 positive cases registered. 

There are currently 2,110 active cases in hospitals with 15,495 patients successfully cured and discharged from hospitals with 106 dead.

Though the CERMEL is the second laboratory in the country to acquire state of the art sequencing equipment, the Gabonese government is determined that it would not be the last, according to officials.

The country’s Prime Minister, Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda, was reported to have said that the country envisages acquiring other sequencing equipment for laboratories in Libreville, the nation’s capital, such as the Prof Daniel Gahouma laboratory, which is the most important lab in the country.

For the national authorities of Gabon, “the surveillance of the coronavirus variants has become an imperial necessity in the national fight against the Covid-19.”

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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