Travel corridor between Palau and Taiwan re-opened with 148 travelers arriving last Saturday from Taiwan. The travel resumed despite OEK joint resolution calling for application of stringent protocols for unvaccinated travelers from Taiwan.
Senate Joint Resolution No. 11-14 urged President Surangel Whipps Jr. to immediately discontinue the sterile corridor travel bubble between Palau and the Republic of China and ensure that all who enter Palau from ROC comply with guidelines on quarantine, isolation and testing.
“Given that the Republic of China cannot currently be considered COVId-safe country, it is imperative that any travelers arriving in Palau from Taiwan adhere to the most stringent quarantine, isolation and testing protocols established by the Ministry of Health and Human Services,” stressed the Resolution.
In response to the OEK’s resolution, Minister Ngirai Tmetuchel of HRTC&D said last week that OEK’s concerns were valid but primary reason for re-opening the flights is to help Palauans who have urgent need of medical service to go to Taiwan. He assured that they are working very closely with Taiwan on all the details, taking all measures to ensure everyone is safe and protected against COVId-19.
President Whipps explained some of the reasons the flights were allowed to resume, citing that number of daily cases in Taiwan have dropped, most Palauans were already vaccinated, travelers are tested at the airport 3 hours before boarding and finally, that they are vaccinated when they arrive which is an added layer of protection for Palau.
According to sources, there were 149 arrivals last Saturday, and 136 were Taiwan visitors who applied for vaccination. They were taken directly to Palau National Gym to get their J&J COVID-19 vaccine jabs. Last week, Minister Tmetuchl also reported that with approval of CDC, the vaccines that are about expire this August and September could be extended to help Taiwan allies. Sources say that there are about 1,000 J&JJ and 2,000 Pfizer that will expire in the next two months.
So far this month, there are 9 China Airlines flights scheduled and 1 in the first week of September.
In another Senate Joint Resolution 11-13, OEK also asked President Whipps to consider visitors arriving from mainland China, including Macao and Hong Kong due to the endemic nature of COVID-19, the increasing number of Delta variant breakout in China and the low effectiveness of the WHO approved Chinese vaccines Sinovac and Sinopharm.
On July 22, President Whipps signed Executive Order 456 rescinding previous Executive Order 435 officially lifting travel ban on travelers from Mainland China, Macau and Hong Kong.