The Council of Chiefs (COC), an advisory body of the 16 traditional chiefs of the 16 states of Palau, offered to be part of the efforts to mitigate and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in their respective states.

In a letter to President Surangel Whipps Jr., the COC offered their recommendations to reduce the spread of COVID, “As Palau is finding itself going through the second wave of COVID-19 virus spread, in the hope that our input would augment the effort of the community to put this dangerous virus under control.”

The traditional leaders recommended an education and public awareness campaign on the virus and the mitigation programs in place that are “geared toward different levels of our society to ensure full understanding…and to prevent confusion and misinformation spreading.”

Pushing for more stringent protocols for incoming travelers, COC recommends closing down borders for “a month or two to assess the level of infection” and control it. 

The chiefs cited four reasons to close borders and they include giving frontliners time to recuperate saying that they are “tired physically and mentally”.  Another reason cited was to allow doctors to focus on other chronic diseases that require the same attention.  Another is to assess the level of community spread and improve strategies to address them.  Lastly, they say, to “improve and strengthen protocols” in the healthcare system.

The Council of Chiefs through Madrengebuke Tommy Remengesau Jr. offered the recommendations at the national leadership meeting this week, saying that the health of the people must come first before the health of the economy.

President Whipps responding to the issue of shutting the borders during this week’s press conference said that it is not about health versus economy.  He said we base our decisions on experts and experts have told us that stopping flights does nothing to stop the spread of viruses.  “As leaders we have to look at the whole picture and balance everything.”

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