Rumors of covid cases spreading through the community were rife yesterday with a video of a person in a protective hazmat suit at Palau High School campus. The information of more people testing positive has again raised people’s fears of covid-19 despite over 95% of the population being vaccinated and over 30% having received booster shots.

Other rumors of 6 Palau High School students testing positive were not confirmed, only that close contacts were being tested. As of January 10, 8 people were identified as positive, bringing the total of positive cases to 16. Of the 8 positives, 3 arrived on the January 7th flight and were tested positive after their Day 4 test. 

The Ministry of Health & Human Services (MHHS) reported through a press release last night that the 16 active cases of covid-19 have been identified and placed in quarantine. The press release also linked all the cases to travelers that were tested positive after their Day 4 tests.

Senate President Hokkons Baules in a statement to Island Times yesterday said “Ministry of Health should go back to the original protocol by testing each traveler upon arrival, and 5 days thereafter, ediak el kired el mo beot a rengud.“

MHHS defines a travel-related case to mean that an identified positive case can be traced to a traveler through contact tracing. It defines a case of community spread to be a person who acquires covid and cannot be traced to a traveler or travel history.

People were expressing concerns that the virus may already be widespread in the community.  Some were asking if schools will be closed today as a result of the growing spread of covid from travelers’ contact with the community.

As a result of these new cases, MHHS issued Directive 04-22 saying that schools and other public establishments will remain open but urged people to practice health preventive measures.

The directive placed back restrictions for visiting hours at the hospital and had private clinics establish outside screening and monitoring.

Meanwhile, MHHS says they will test the students today who were listed as close contacts of a student that was tested positive.

Minister Gaafar Uherbelau will be on Palau Wave radio this morning at 9 am to talk about these new cases.

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