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Ministry of Health issued a travel alert to all travelers to avoid “non-essential travel” to include Japan and South Korea.  This expansion of travel alert is not part of the current Executive Order that prohibits travel to China, Macau and Hong Kong.  This expands the Ministry of Health’s travel alert issued on January 30th that alerted travelers to avoid non-essential travel to China, Hong Kong, and Macau, now to include Japan and South Korea.

The travel alert says there is an ongoing outbreak of 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) “that can spread from person to person in mainland China and sustained person-to-person transmission in other countries including Japan and South Korea.”

According to the report from the Ministry of Health, this alert comes after World Health Organization (WHO) and US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed “sustained person-to-person” transmission of the disease in the two countries.

As of yesterday, there have been 78,973 confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) of which 76,936 are reported within mainland China.  Cases outside of China has risen to 2,037 in 32 countries including Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia, France, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Macau, South Korea, United States, United Kingdom, Vietnam, Nepal, Canada, Germany, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, United Arab Erimates, Finland, Russia, Italy, India, Sweden, Philippines, Spain, Belgium, Egypt, Iran, Israel, and Lebanon.

There have been 2,468 deaths due to coronavirus. 2,442 are reported in mainland China, 1 in the Philippines, 2 in Hong Kong, 1 in Japan, 1 in France, 1 in Taiwan, 8 in Iran, 6 in South Korea, 3 in Italy and 3 deaths aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.  Person-to-person transmission has been reported in South Korea and Japan.

Screening of incoming passengers continues daily at the airport and seaport with over 83 flights screened, 8,267 travelers; 10 vessels screened, 199 travelers; 22 secondary screening since January 23, 2020.

There is NO suspected case of COVID-19 virus in Palau but the Ministry of Health continues to urge good practice of respiratory etiquette and cleaning of ones’ hands with soap and water or 70% alcohol-based sanitizer. (L.N Reklai)