The Pohnpei State Government wishes to update the general public on efforts to repatriate citizens and residents from abroad. These efforts have been progressing since travel restrictions were established in March and as of last week, have been focused on the prioritization of repatriating medical referral patients and students stranded on Guam. The Pohnpei State and National COVID-19 Task Forces have been working hard to ensure that any inbound travel is done with minimal risk to all involved. This has included requiring COVID-19 testing with negative results, a pre-departure 14-day quarantine at a designated facility in Guam with daily monitoring, and additional negative-result testing prior to being allowed to board the plane to Pohnpei. Upon arrival, an additional 14-day quarantine would be required, with further testing on day 7 and day 14, with negative results prior to release.
In a letter to the Pohnpei State COVID-19 Task Force Chairman, Director Wincener David, dated September 23, 2020, Secretary and National Task Force Chairman Dr. Livingston A. Taulung conveyed that the FSM National Government has decided to shift repatriation efforts, to begin with, the COVID-19 free jurisdictions. “This will enable us to practically and fully exercise our emergency preparedness capacities, capabilities, protocols, standard operating procedures (SOP) and facilities prior to repatriation from Guam and other COVID-19 affected countries/areas,” he stated.
In his response, Chairman David thanked the FSM National Government for being supportive of the Pohnpei State Task Force’s pending request to prioritize repatriation from COVID-19 free areas. Chairman David noted, “While the request to begin with the RMI repatriation was meant to supplement the Guam repatriation, it was not meant to supplant what we have collectively been working towards.” In regard to the initially proposed first group to be repatriated from Guam, i.e. the medical referral patients, he further noted, “the longer we keep them out there, the more at risk they are because of their underlying medical conditions.”
Chairman David further conveyed that the Pohnpei State Task Force understands the concerns regarding Pohnpei’s readiness and agreed that starting the repatriation process in COVID-free jurisdictions will not only help test our preparedness capacities but also identify and address any remaining gaps in the process. The Task Force has been working hard to close gaps that were identified in the most recent simulation exercise, including ensuring the quarantine site has essential equipment available, facilities are wheelchair accessible, there is a triage and testing area, additional PPE donning area designated, and sufficient staff has been identified. On the issue of staffing shortages and capacities, nurses have received additional infection prevention and control training and will be rostered for the full 14 days of quarantine, with a physician on standby, and upon entry into quarantine, no one will be allowed out until the full 14 days are completed, provided that there are no positive cases. Other capacity building has included workshops on contact tracing, refreshers on the appropriate use of PPEs, and ventilator training.
The Governor’s Office wishes to assure the people of Pohnpei that the Pohnpei State COVID-19 Task Force will continue working with the FSM National Government to ensure that our citizens and residents are repatriated at the right time and in the safest and most responsible manner while ensuring that the public is confident in our efforts and process. Further updates will be issued as the situation develops.
For more information on this news release or on repatriation efforts, please contact the Public Information Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org).