By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The Federated States of Micronesia on Tuesday reported 811 new Covid-19 infections in the last 24 hours, raising the tally to 2,072 since the first cases of community transmissions were detected on July 19. Of the total number of new cases, 619 were detected in Pohnpei and 192 in Kosrae.
Richard Clark, spokesperson for the FSM government, said several officials and medical personnel have tested positive for Covid-19.
"I can confirm that multiple medical staff, at the national and state level, ranging from nurses to epidemiologists, are presently positive with Covid-19 and unable to work," he wrote in an email.
Clark said the Pohnpei State Hospital has ceased all outpatient activities and canceled all doctor appointments.
"Concerns on losing the hospital and other infrastructure have prompted additional and focused discussion at the FSM government on how to maintain critical infrastructures, such as logistics pipelines, medical care facilities, power and water utilities, and communications," he added.
Chuuk and Yap have not reported any community transmissions. The Covid-19 infections logged for these states -- seven in Chuuk and three in Yap-- were border cases from previous repatriation flights.
Yap Gov. Jesse J. Salalu, who tested Covid-19 positive, is currently isolated in Pohnpei.
Chuuk officials have asked the national government to delay its plan to reopen the FSM borders on Aug. 1.
"The purpose of Chuuk State's request is to accommodate the completion of Chuuk State Hospital's renovations, which are projected to be completed in November," Clark said.
The set of regulations that will govern the Healthy Border Protection Act is scheduled to be signed by July 30.
"It is the intent of President David W. Panuelo to address the nation and its people sometime prior to the signing," Clark said.
Two medical teams from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were anticipated to arrive in Pohnpei and Kosrae today but their flight has been canceled.
"The arrival of the teams has been rescheduled for later in the week," Clark said.
Panuelo instructed relevant departments to offer assistance to Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae for this purpose.
Clark said the sudden Covid surge has prompted more businesses to temporarily close down, citing concerns about further coronavirus spread in the community. Some banking institutions and other private businesses that perform essential functions have either cut their hours of business operating from 9 a.m. to noon, or limited the services they provide.
"The majority of non-government organizations and diplomatic missions representing foreign governments are presently mandating their staff to either work from home and/or to only receive persons at their offices if an appointment is made in advance," Clark said.
In at least two FSM government departments, most senior officials are positive for Covid-19.
"Several FSM government departments have implemented plans to allow work-from-home, and others have allowed persons who are asymptomatic or with mild symptoms to return to work so long as they wear masks," Clark said.
The Department of Health and Social Affairs reported that the FSM possesses enough Paxlovid medicine for 21,000 persons.
"I am not able to confirm or describe, how judiciously these medicines are, or are not, being used," Clark said.