Palau on January 1st reported 5 active travel-related cases of COVID-19 as well as 67 persons under quarantine as a result of contact tracing of those who came in close contact with positive cases.

The cases were identified after the travelers received their Day 4 tests after arrival. 2 of the cases came on the December 24th flight while two were on a private jet that arrived on December 27th from the US. After contact tracing, one of the 25 close contacts of those that arrived on the 27th flight was found to be positive.

Of the 25 contacts of the COVID positive travelers from the December 27th charter flight, 7 left the country on January 1 while 18 are in quarantine pending the Day 5 and Day 10 tests.  The infected contact is in isolation also pending tests.

News such as this would have caused major panic in the community a couple of months ago but since the report came out, and as certain places like Koror State Government have imposed stricter measures and more people have donned masks (especially in crowded places), people are not as tense as they were when the first historical case was reported six months ago.

Vaccinations and public education have raised public confidence but that confidence is still reliant on daily information and clear messaging, as also demonstrated in these latest cases. Without clear information, anxiety builds and corrodes confidence. 

In the last MHHS Directive, Day 1 testing was removed and moved to Day 4 testing.  Some asked why the Day 1 test was removed and expressed worry that infected people could be infecting others while going around in those first 4 days.

The Ministry of Health and Human Services has stated earlier that such decisions are based on CDC and other experts’ advice and the new MHHS Minister Uherbelau said they will continue to be vigilant and adapt “to latest developments” with the pandemic.

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