Koror State government expanded the coverage of its emergency response plan for COVID-19 from its operations and personnel to cover the population within Koror State through the adoption of its Executive Order 20-20.

With the largest concentration of Palau’s population within Koror State, Koror State leadership believes that it is “most vulnerable and will be most impacted” should a COVID-19 positive case is confirmed.

The entire leadership of the State met on Sunday, March 22 to establish measures to minimize and reduce risks of potential COVID-19 crisis within Koror.

“These are unprecedented times and the world is sick and it would be naïve to think it won’t come to us,” expressed chief Kloteraol James Lebuu Litler of the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Koror State Governor Franco Gibbons issued an Executive Order 20-20 adopting Koror State Government COVID-19 Response Plan.  The plan addresses prevention measures within Koror State government operations as well as a plan of action based on Singapore’s DORSCON (Disease Outbreak Response System Condition).  One such conditions implemented yesterday mandated enforcement of Koror State curfew law and minimizing gathering a Koror State public parks.

Koror’s House of Traditional Leaders (Ibedul and Ngarameketii) issued a Bul, a traditional prohibition to support Koror State’s Curfew law and support the Ministry of Health’s directive limiting people gatherings.  In the proclamation of Bul, it states that Rubekulkeldeu and hamlet groups will enforce this Bul.

Koror State Legislature passed two (2) resolutions in support of the Governor’s Executive Order and the Bul declared by Koror House of Traditional Leaders.

“We stand ready to work with Governor, to do what is necessary to ensure safety and health of the people,” stated Koror State Speaker Alan Marbou.  “We have passed a resolution in support of the Governor’s EO and we need the Bul of the Klobak to add weight and support to this important matter,” added Marbou.

Pushing for stronger enforcement of the curfew law, Speaker Marbou stated that any major accident or incident needs to be avoided. “With no flights out of Palau and medical priorities focused on this virus crisis, any serious incident will not be a priority.”

Greater public awareness campaign about the safety and health of the people was recommended by Legislator Wilson Ngirausui.  Legislator Vann Isaac advised avoiding panic by active enforcement of existing laws and minimizing gathering at parks and diangel, especially where people gather and drink alcohol.

Chief Ibedul urged Koror State government to maintain communication with the national government in order to avoid miscommunication with the national government and public confusion during this crisis.

Governor Gibbons assured the leadership of ongoing communication between State and national saying Koror State’s Director of Conservation and Law Enforcement Jennifer Olegeriil represents Koror State on the National Emergency Committee and that she brings Koror State’s concerns to that body as well as relay the information from NEC to the Governor.

Floor Leader Jason Nolan, who also seats in the national government’s Emergency Operation Committee, says he will ensure that there is constant and open communication between the national and Koror State government as well.

Director Olegeriil said they will ask for more aggressive enforcement of the curfew law in partnership Koror State rangers based on the existing MOU between Koror State and Ministry of Justice to jointly enforce laws within Koror State.

Director Olegeriil added that this was a rapidly evolving situation and that everything must be done simultaneously, including awareness campaigns and enforcement.

“If an issue is controversial but it saves lives, it’s okay,” stated Speaker Alan Marbou of the measures Koror State is taking to reduce risk.

Governor Gibbons expressed his appreciation to the unified position of Koror State leadership saying “I can’t do it all by myself and we would need to meet and collaborate and prioritize what can be done to protect the people.” (L.N. Reklai)