The postponed July 24th charter flight has presented new challenges for the Palau repatriation process. For the two passengers who have tested positive, this means special healthcare in a separate isolation site. For the other eighty-two passengers, it means an additional week of quarantine in Guam as the government conducts contact tracing.
This week, Island Times spoke to one of the incoming residents in Guam via internet to get an insider’s perspective on what quarantine looks like.
The quarantined passenger, who wishes to remain anonymous, originally flew from New York to Guam, where she was transferred to the government quarantine facility. She underwent testing on July 20, which turned out negative.
In the interview, the resident explained that all eighty-four passengers are separated from each other, with no person-to-person contact since the beginning of quarantine on July 16. Every passenger in the facility, which is a hotel most of the year, has their own room.
“We don’t leave our rooms, receive visitors, nothing,” she said. “They don’t allow food from the outside, even if it’s sealed! I had to get special permission for the few snack deliveries I’ve had from the hotel store.”
Despite the inconvenience, she asserts that the frontline workers are being extremely careful to monitor the safety of the passengers. “I can honestly say they’re taking quarantine seriously,” she said. “They have to provide rapid COVID tests, laundry, food, health checks, memos, and collect passport information for over eighty people. When we fly, they’re going to collect our luggage and check it for us.”
All quarantined residents signed a waiver consent form legally binding them to the terms of the quarantine.
Health checks occur daily, and consist of temperature checks and symptom checks. The nurses administer them in the doorways, wearing hazmat and personal protective equipment.
“It’s a job that I imagine can be stressful, but in fact they’re really humane,” the resident said. “They’re careful and expedient, but they’ve also been kind in the way they talk to me and interact with me.”
The staff drops off sealed meals for the quarantined passengers outside their doorways, which the passengers retrieve. The resident explained that, unless two passengers open their doors simultaneously, which are several meters apart, the only interpersonal contact they get is with the fully-protected frontline workers.
The resident contrasted this with her experience in New York. “When I was in New York, which was an epicenter for a bit as a state, even at the height of COVID lockdown people could order no-contact delivery from anywhere,” she said. “America had nothing like this when they repatriated stranded citizens from Peru and all over. People were serving abroad and came directly into society from places with COVID surges.” (By: Adam Somers)
She praised the government’s decision to extend quarantine for another week in Guam after two of the eighty-four passengers were tested positive. “Obviously none of us want to be stuck in quarantine for longer,” she said, “but it seems to me that they’re taking all the right precautions. I must say I’m really impressed with the way the frontline workers are handling a really scary situation.”

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