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President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. slammed the allegations of shutting down a recommendation to declare a state of emergency (SOE) to solve dengue outbreak in Palau.

During the press conference on Wednesday, Remengesau took a defensive stance that no one has ever shut down plans to declare SOE to address the dengue problem in the country.

Remengesau was responding to the press who inquired about the veracity of the information that the Ministry of Health (MOH) had allegedly recommended to declare an SOE but that it was shut down by the government.

An information shared to the media alleged that the move was prevented out of fear that it might further affect the tourism industry.

The president said that Palau has its own health policy and that the Ministry of Health (MOH) has already declared the dengue problem as an epidemic.

“We have our own health policy that any time in a given month that there are more than 10 cases of epidemic flus – in this case the dengue – so the MOH considers it an epidemic,” Remengesau said.

Remengesau reiterated that the government is taking the problem seriously and that they had been “doing everything to try to control the problem.”

The president said that even the health minister Emais Roberts has cancelled his trip to the United Nations (UN) to closely monitor local efforts such as cleanup drives.

He also reiterated that although there are over 500 accumulated dengue cases since December last year, this does not mean that all of them are in the hospital right now as most of them have already been cured and that there are only “three in-patients in the hospital” as of September 18.

“I hope to clarify this to the media: we keep emphasizing the total accumulated number of cases since declaration of outbreak but that is not the reality presently. Today, there are only three patients who are in the hospital,” Remengesau stressed.

Meanwhile, Palau’s neighboring islands such as the Republic of Marshall Islands and Guam had previously declared health emergency and state of emergency, respectively, to be able to tap emergency resources to fight dengue. Guam’s declaration of SOE immediately came a few days after it recorded its first locally transmitted dengue fever in 75 years. (By Rhealyn C. Pojas)