The special charter flight arriving today from Taiwan carrying more medical supplies for Palau and taking back Shin Kong’s medical experts will also bring 7 Palauans, patients, and escorts, that were under medical referral to Taiwan but got stuck there when flights between the two countries were suspended due to COVID-19.

“This is killing four birds with one stone,” said President Remengesau describing the situation with this charter flight.

This was a one-time opportunity presented that Palau took advantage of, to bring in needed medical supplies, return stranded Palauan patients and escorts, bring in engineers for Futsu company that are working on Our Oceans 2020 projects and return back the medical specialists that were conducting training in Palau and also bring two medical referrals patients to Taiwan according to President Remengesau.

Questions were raised about Palau going back on its position of not bringing in people until its ready and sending out new medical referrals.

Minister Emais Roberts defended the decision saying that the opportunity presented itself but they are taking every precaution to ensure the safety of the community.

Shin Kong hospital had agreed to administer COVID-19 tests on the patients and their escorts before they left and they had all tested negative.

“We also decided to use the opportunity to activate and test our response system.  The Quarantine protocol will be activated and everyone arriving on the plane will be taken on a designated bus to quarantine site.  The medical and other personnel meetings with arriving passengers will be fully geared in protective suits.  No one else will meet them other than the authorized personnel.  They will be taken to quarantine sites where security will be posted ensuring that they remained quarantined.  Red Cross will be bringing their food but no one else other than medical personnel will see them.  We will administer COVID-19 tests again on Monday and after we get the results, then they can be released,” revealed Minister Emais Roberts.

Regarding the new medical referrals, Minister Roberts also said that Shin Kong and Taiwan approved only 2 patients.  According to sources, patients include a patient with a heart condition and one with a complex bone fracture.

The referral patients will also undergo Taiwan’s quarantine procedures for COVID-19 upon arrival in Taiwan.

“Even though we are assured that the passengers are COVID free, we will still treat them as if they have not been tested and use the opportunity to test our system for when we will need to address our returning citizens from other areas like Guam, Saipan, and Hawaii,” added Minister Roberts.

President Remengesau said that this was not saying we are opening our borders.  This was a one-time opportunity and that he wants the entire testing process to be completed, assess the status of our regional neighbors before a decision is made to bring in our stranded citizens in other countries.  If Palau does decide to open its doors after the testing, he said it will only focus on Palau’s citizens and children stranded overseas.