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The first 33 random tests taken of Palau’s front liners came back yesterday all negative of COVID-19 coronavirus.  This is first of the planned 500 random tests of front-liners as well as a cross-section of Palau’s population to make sure that the COVID-19 virus is not present here in Palau.

Ask whether Palau will test its entire population, Minister Roberts stated that, “We would like to do that if we had enough test kits. We have a limited number of test kits right now and we can only do random tests, especially of the frontline workers, elderlies, and others to see if there is a presence of the virus.”

President Remengesau added that it has been nearly four weeks since the last flight into Palau and no one has shown up positive for COVID-19 and coupling that with random testing of the cross-section of the population, especially front liners, should assure people that the country is free of COVID-19.

The testing will continue for 3 weeks until the 500 tests have been achieved.  With 33 tests a day, this should run into the first week of May.

Minister Dr. Emais Roberts reported that Palau will be receiving 2 real-time PCR machines, donated by the United States of America.  These new real-time rapid testing machines can provide results in 15 minutes.  The machines expand Palau’s capacity to test for the COVID-19 virus.

With COVID-19 random testing ongoing until May, the Ministry of Education amended its Directive 03-20 extending school closure until May 15 and allowing instruction through online sources as well as other means.

“School is all mass gathering and it is difficult to maintain social distancing.  We will continue to exercise preventive measures until the Ministry of Health and the National Emergency Committee advise otherwise,” assured Minister of Education Sinton Soalablai.  If test results from all the planned tests come out negative, then the Ministry of Education may allow for graduation exercises to commence.