“Palau is on the right track… and I am leaving more optimistic than when I arrived,” expressed Dr. Thane Hancock, Medical Epidemiologist from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of Palau’s handling of the COVID-19 omicron outbreak.

Despite the high number of cases, Palau has had low hospitalization numbers and all with mostly mild symptoms. This,  Dr. Hancock attributes to Palau’s high vaccination rates and the community’s willingness to get booster shots.

“We are seeing a vast vast majority of people in Palau, when they are infected with COVId-19, because of their vaccination and boosting, has been very mild,” said Hancock.

As of February 7, Palau reported 20 hospitalizations.  Of the 20, 9 are hospitalized for covid while 11 were hospitalized with covid.  Those hospitalized with COVID were admitted for other conditions and were tested positive for COVID.  Of the 9 that were hospitalized for COVID, none has required a ventilator or had experienced severe COVID symptoms.

In just the last 3 weeks, over 5,000 people have received their booster shots, a quarter of the entire Palau population. 

In addition to vaccinations, Dr. Hancock also credits the Ministry of Health’s quick efforts to adopt new ways to address rising cases.  The opening of COVId Care Clinic, the opening of different testing sites, the community-wide testing, and the community outreaches to outlying states are some of the positive adaptations Dr. Hancock added.

Calling the COVID Care Clinic a “model”, Dr. Hancock praises the idea of having the clinic set up to quickly take care of symptomatic COVID-19 positive cases.

“The people who are high-risk for developing severe COVID are able to get access to these really new and quite outstanding therapies that can really reduce the chance of that person getting severe COVId,” commended Dr. Hancock.

No one knows what the next variant will be like but Dr. Hancock says that the measures Palau’s Ministry of Health has put in place and what the Palau community had done as a whole put Palau on the right track and ensure that the community is protected.

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