Updated: May 15
Palikir, Pohnpei-- After being stranded on Guam for more than a year, 28 citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia made it back home today.
The 28 passengers, who flew into Pohnpei on a U.S. Coast Guard C-130 from Guam, formed the first of two batches of stranded citizens scheduled for repatriation through humanitarian flights provided by the U.S. government.
All passengers underwent pre-quarantine in Guam and were all tested negative for Covid-19 before boarding the aircraft for Pohnpei, according to the state government.
Pohnpei state officials said the passengers will undergo seven days of quarantine and be tested again on Sunday, May 16.
"The remaining passengers will arrive tomorrow in the same manner. We will keep the public posted on further developments," state officials said.
The 28 newly arrived passengers were among the undetermined number of FSM citizens and foreign diplomats, who were stranded in different jurisdictions while in transit on their way back home when the government closed the borders at the onset of Covid-19 pandemic last year.
Their repatriation has been postponed repeatedly after experiencing different stumbling blocks.
In response to the FSM government's request, the U.S. government provided two humanitarian flights from Guam to the FSM on May 13 and 14, with a total of 43 FSM citizens and 14 diplomats and family members.
Today's flight arrived at Pohnpei International Airport around 1:15 pm local time. Flight two is scheduled to arrive tomorrow at the same time.
"All FSM Covid-19 safety protocols were followed. Embassy Kolonia thanks U.S. Coast Guard District 14, and especially Sector Guam, for their support," states a press release from the U.S. Embassy in Kolonia.
On Monday, Pohnpei Gov. Reed Oliver extended the state of emergency, citing the continuing imminent threat of Covid-19.
The governor's directive reactivates the Pohnpei Covid-19 Emergency Task Force, places Pohnpei’s Covid readiness condition based on its contingency response plan, and sets penalties for any violation at not less than $1,000 or imprisonment for not less than one year, or both such fine and imprisonment.