- By Pacific island Times News Staff
FSM Consulate temporarily closed due to Covid outbreak
The Consulate of the Federated States of Micronesia on Guam temporarily closed its office beginning today due to continuing spread of Covid-19 on island that heightened the risk of staff's exposure to the coronavirus.
The Office of FSM President said the consulate will continue to provide service remotely.
FSM Consul General Teresa Filepin has requested permission from the FSM Department of Foreign Affairs for the closure of in-person services due to multiple direct contacts with Covid-19 infected individuals and their immediate family members who reside with them.
"Even when the government instituted a total lockdown, the consulate continued to provide citizens with crucial assistance ranging from passport applications to inquiries regarding FSM financial assistance. Other services, such as certificates of identity, notary public, public unemployment assistance, delivery of supplies, mails, payments, ground arrangements for repatriation, and assistance to members of Congress for their attendance in congressional sessions, were ongoing," the FSM Information Service said.
“Although our main service windows were closed to the general public since the first week of lockdown,” Filepin said, “In practice we were still assisting on average 25 visitors a day through our back and side doors.”
The consulate advised that on Sept. 23, a minimum of four individuals, either with a confirmed case of Covid-19, and/or a direct household member of an individual with Covid-19, interacted with consulate staff.
“I cannot, in good conscience, continue to subject my staff to this type of hazardous environment,” the consul general said. “We will divert calls to our mobile phones again and work remotely from home.”
FSM President David W. Panuelo has endorsed consulate shutdown "until such a time that it can be confirmed that the consulate is clean from Covid-19, and that all staff have been tested for the virus. I appreciate that the decision to close down the consulate at this time will not be popular with our citizens abroad, but I trust everyone will understand that the decision is predicated on the need to keep our citizens safe from the virus,"