The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday urged the Olbiil Era Kelulau (OEK) to pour in more money to the efforts of preventing the coronavirus from coming to Palau.
MOH Minister Emais Roberts in an interview said it would need more resources to “prepare for the worst.”
Adequate funding is needed for the continued health screenings of travelers coming to Palau as well as funding for the Ministry of Health.
Roberts said it’s time for the OEK to stop politicking and instead prioritize the coronavirus efforts.
“As a nation, there are only a few of us. We have to come together and do the best we can. That’s why I am asking OEK let’s prioritize things.If we have reserves or we have things set aside for emergencies, this is the time to use it, and this not the time for politics, this is the time to get things done,” added Dr. Roberts.
Although there is no confirmed case in Palau, health officials announced Tuesday that a 73- year old woman is in isolation as they await test results for COVID-19 coronavirus.
“The Ministry of Health needs all the help to set up for this (coronavirus) outbreak, not only this, we have also been having dengue fever. We always need help, it’s never enough.In a way this is a wake-up call, we need to prepare for the worst,” Dr. Roberts said in a press conference on Wednesday said.
He said that Palau, with its limited resources, would not be able to cope if it has a confirmed case.
“We are not prepared for one positive case. This is not a positive case, if it is, we are really in big trouble,” Roberts said.
He said that MOH would need the help of Congress to prioritize funding for the efforts.
On Feb. 18, President Tommy Remengesau Jr. in his submission of the supplemental budget to the OEK expressed concern that the ongoing threat of coronavirus will have a negative impact on the tourism industry, as many hotels and tour operators are reeling from cancellations due to the travel restrictions.
Remengesau also asked the OEK for $300,000 to cover the cost of the coronavirus urgent monitoring and surveillance efforts.
The money will also include the purchase of automated temperature sensor equipment, supplies, and testing.