Flag of Palau (Background photo created by www.slon.pics - www.freepik.com)

Yesterday, President Remengesau Jr. in a letter to Vice President Raynold Oilouch in his capacity as Chairman of the National Emergency Commission, directed him to seek “the most feasible date to have charter flight bring Palauan students and stranded residents home.

In the letter he also said to ensure “strict compliance with testing and quarantine protocols…as well as any additional measures” to take to minimize risk of introducing COVID-19 to Palau.  He added that the work must be done in close collaboration with Ministry of Health and to “ensure that all of the relevant government leaders agree on the plan.”

It was reported that Palau Ministry of Health has acquired the services of private medical provider in Guam to oversee the process of testing and quarantine in Guam for the Palau students and stranded citizens.

Earlier, OEK had requested for full costs of all services related to returning of Palau’s stranded people back home including costs of employing a private company to oversee the process, the cost of chartering a flight, hotels and other related expenses.

People continue to be divided on whether to bring students and stranded citizens home with many in Palau resisting the idea of bringing anyone in at this time.

Meanwhile, as of May 21st, there were still no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Palau.  Total of 661 PCR tests of all frontline workers, providers and first responders (nurses, doctors, immigration and customs officers, store cashiers and others) have all been negative for COVID-19.

Ministry of Health reports that currently it has 26 ventilators. 18 for adults and 2 for children are ready for use, 1 is currently in use and 5 are being calibrated.

Alternative Care Site (ACS) including isolation rooms to care for the critically ill are being prepared.

Meanwhile, Palau had received donations of thousands of masks, safety body suits, thousands of gloves and other supplies for handling potential cases of COVID-19.  Palau is also receiving from the US Strategic Stockpile allocation, additional supplies and medicines such as remdesivir in preparation for potential case.  Palau have received thousands of rapid test kits, supplies equipment from Taiwan, United States, Australia, Japan, Israel, and private donors.

“Although it sounds like we have lots more supplies than we need, like masks for example, just to give you an idea of what it takes to handle one COVID-19 patient, when we had the two Persons-Under-Investigation (PUI), for the first PUI patient, we used 94 PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment including masks) in 9 days.  For the second PUI, we used 50 PPEs in 5 days.  And this is for PUIs, but if we have a positive case, these numbers will be much higher,” reported Ritter Udui, MOH Emergency Operation Center- COVID-19 Response Incidence Commander.