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With a COVID-19 testing system in place for the Republic, President Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr. has asked his ministers and directors to work in bringing the country to “some sense of normalcy” in his cabinet meeting with all Bureau Directors on April 13.

Over the weekend, installation of key medical equipment and training were completed, paving the way for targeted coronavirus testing in the country to begin with people who have the most risk of being exposed to it and those most susceptible to the virus. Targeted testing will begin with front line and first responders, the elderly, individuals with pre-existing health issues, and those who display flu symptoms. Minister Roberts says MOH is target testing approximately 437 individuals over the next three weeks.

The three-week testing begins April 14 and will last for the remainder of the month, according to Minister of Health Dr. Emais Roberts.

“As coronavirus testing resumes and our borders locked down, we have to come up with a plan for getting back to normal and allow for limited gatherings to ease public fears and apprehension.” The president said in his daily Cabinet meeting. “The government needs everyone on deck. We and the general public must remain vigilant and continue to practice preventive measures issued by the Ministry of Health, such as hand washing, social distancing and minimize mass gatherings. And we must do our very best in bringing public services to the people.” The president added.

The president said that the country’s borders will continue to be closed through the rest of April, and the COVID-19 crisis will be reassessed at that time to determine the next course of action with recommendation from the Ministry of Health and the National Emergency Committee.

The president urged his ministers and directors to take the MOF recommended steps in stimulating the local economy, which has experienced drastic decline due to the travel restrictions put in place as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the meantime, the administration is exploring ways to bring home Palau’s citizens and residents who are stranded overseas unable to return home due to international flight bans and local flight suspensions. (Contributed)