- By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
FSM prepares for arrival of cargo ship; crew facing 28 days in quarantine
Updated: Jan 11, 2021
MV Caroline Voyager/ Photo couresy of MarineTraffic.com
The Federated States of Micronesia’s national and state Covid-19 task forces are on standby for the anticipated arrival of MV Caroline Voyager, whose crew will be in quarantine for nearly a month before going home to their families.
According to MarineTraffic.com, the FSM flag carrier is scheduled to return to Pohnpei at 6 a.m. on Nov. 18.
The FSM government earlier said said the cargo vessel will enter the pilot station outside Pohnpei’s main vessel entry channel, where the crew will get a medical briefing and Covid-19 testing.
Based on the FSM government's Covid-19 response protocol, the crew will be in quarantine for 14 days at-sea and additional 14 days at-anchorage. They will be scheduled for two more Covid tests, first on Nov. 26 and again on Dec. 3.
“Presuming that all crew remain Covid-19 free at that time, the crew will then be released into the community and, by extension, able to visit their friends and family before the government requires the vessel undergo its next field trip requiring their services,” a press release from the FSM Information Servive said.
The number of crew members was currently not available.
“The crew of the MV Caroline Voyager, as essential employees, are not considered by the government as equivalent to private citizens undergoing repatriation; however, the government is committed to ensuring that the return of the MV Caroline Voyager and her crew are held to the safest and most airtight standard possible,” the FSM government said.
The 22-year-old cargo ship departed Japan on Nov. 4, from the Port of Osaka where it had been in dock for repairs since Aug. 26.
FSM President David Panuelo said the entire crew had repeatedly tested negative for Covid-19 during a series of tests on Sept. 29, Oct. 1, Oct. 28 and 29. They had been held in strict quarantine on the ship “without any outside contact” from Sept. 29 until their departure on Nov. 4.
“Based on the length of time that the crew were confined to the vessel in Osaka with no contact, their two negative test results for Covid-19, and that Caroline Voyager will sail for about 14 days back to FSM and will be subject to an additional 14 days quarantine in anchorage, the National Taskforce determined that Caroline Voyager, and its crew, are safe to return to Pohnpei, FSM,” Panuelo said in a letter to Pohnpei Gov. Reed Oliver.
Panuelo said the national and state task forces have prepared the protocol and standard operating procedures for monitoring, testing and management of the vessel’s crew “from upon their arrival in FSM until they are deemed safe for release back into our community.”
Meanwhile, the Asian Development Bank today announced the approval of a $14 million grant to help FSM respond to the pandemic. ADB said the grant will help fund measures that combat the entry and spread of Covid-19, provide economic stimulus to businesses, and enhance social protection for the poor and vulnerable. “The FSM Health Expenditure and Livelihoods Support Program, or HEALS, is part of an integrated package of assistance by ADB that covers FSM’s immediate response to Covid-19 and short-term financing support to manage the socioeconomic effects of the pandemic while promoting interventions that support recovery and building resilience,” said ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa. ADB’s HEALS program will support the FSM government’s health action plan through activities such as building quarantine facilities, providing infection prevention training for first responders, increasing local laboratory testing, and supplying essential medical equipment. The program will also provide financial support, including wage subsidies and tax rebates for the 186 tourism businesses that have been hit hard by the threat of the pandemic.