POHNPEI, 23 DECEMBER 2021 (FSMPIO) — The government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) has determined that the person under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19 is unlikely to be a COVID-19 case.

The FSM National Government suspects the COVID-19 case is a false positive, and that by extension the FSM remains COVID-19 free.

More than 20 close contacts of the PUI were tested for COVID-19, as well as 119 other individuals in the community, and 79 cases of influenza-like illness (ILI) that were presented to the Pohnpei State Hospital and local clinics. Without exception, all tests were negative for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease.

However, there remains a rapid and concerning spread of ILIs in the communities of Pohnpei State. There has been a 20-fold increase in ILI cases in healthcare facilities since 06 December.

Human Coronavirus NL63 (HCoV-NL63), a common virus that causes the common cold, was determined as the cause of the outbreak. Of all the cases that have been seen so far at the Pohnpei State Hospital, 54% are female, 42% are under 5 years old, 25% are from Madolenihmw, 20% from Nett, and 19% from Kolonia respectively.

The symptoms of the common virus HCoV-NL63 may include fever, cough, stuffy nose, headache, sore throat, and/or body aches. 

The government has urged members of the public to practice proper hygiene, such as washing your hands regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitiSer; covering your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing; and wearing a mask if you have respiratory symptoms. Stay at home if you feel sick, and seek medical care if your symptoms persist for more than 3 days or worsen. Avoid crowds, closed spaces, and unnecessary contact with those outside of your family. 

“My fellow Micronesians we can consider the increase of the common cold to be a kind of fire drill for COVID-19. We are still COVID-19 free, but we can plainly see that the common cold, which does not spread as fast as COVID-19, has reached much of our community. Let’s learn from this experience, and practice washing our hands, and staying home if we are sick—and wearing a mask in public if we have any symptoms—so that we can protect ourselves and our families, said President Panuelo…. PACNEWS

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