“The actual number of stranded residents and students expected on the July 24th flight is still fluctuating,” according to Public Relations Officer Olkeriil Kazuo for NEC in response to inquiry about 87 reported number of people on the 24th.
According to NEC PIO, they have learned during the last repatriation exercises that “one room per person” may not be the best way and they are working to “consolidate” or book people that have been travelling all the way together in one room. “This may be more cost effective,” stated PIO Kazuo.
As far as the number of people arriving, this is not yet confirmed according to NEC. It is still being worked on. It may be 87, more or less depending on the consolidation efforts. There are total of 50 rooms available for quarantine. About 15 of those are being used to quarantine the Civic Action Team members who arrived here in Palau on the 10th. They are scheduled to be released if all are tested negative by July 24th.
EOC confirmed with Island Times yesterday that the Civic Action Team members are being quarantined in a government designated facility and not at Camp Katuu. It was also confirmed that the members of CAT team were quarantined and tested before coming to Palau in accordance with Palau requirements. Whilst here, they will undergo 14 days quarantine and 2 more tests before they can be released.
It was also reported that 2 of the people with CAT team are military liaison officers, one of which is a Palauan military personnel. They will liaise for KOA MOANA operation as well.
Rumors that some of the people on the list of reported 87 people coming are Seventh Day Adventists teachers is denied by NEC. PIO Olkeriil Kazuo said that an official request for the SDA teachers to come to Palau has been lodged with NEC and they are being considered along with other essential workers for another time but none is coming on this flight. This is for repatriated stranded citizens and students confirmed Kazuo.
Efforts to return stranded citizens and returning Palauan students is ongoing. Plans are being drawn to bring back graduating students from Taiwan as well as essential workers. The plans may include having regular airline like China Air or Eva Air to provide such transportation.
Minister of Health Dr. Emais Roberts said that lessons have been learned from the recent repatriation experiences and Palau can “scale down” the process based on lessons learned while continuing to make effort to minimize risks of bringing COVID-19 to Palau.