Palikir, Pohnpei— Federated States of Micronesia President David W. Panuelo has extended the mandatory Guam-based pre-quarantine for repatriating citizens to 10 days from its previous requirement of seven days. The decision cited concerns over the delta variant of Covid-19, which has resulted in mobile morgues in Hawaii and the installation of medical tents in Guam due to hospital overflow.
The extension of the mandatory pre-quarantine, crucially, allows for the FSM government to implement two Covid-19 tests to repatriating persons prior to their arrival into the FSM.
Previously, such repatriating persons only required a single Covid-19 test while in pre-quarantine. “The primary reason for extending pre-quarantine to 10 days instead of seven is to give us ample time to conduct two Covid-19 tests to repatriating persons before they come into the country,” Panuelo said in a statement.
“Guam is significantly more vaccinated than the FSM, and is equipped with superior resources, and yet our Guamanian brothers and sisters are finding the delta variant extraordinarily challenging," he said.
FSM remains Covid-free and Panuelo said the nation needs to strengthen its efforts at keeping the coronavirus at bay.
"Our nation’s top medical experts suggest that the way to keep ourselves safe is to mandate a second test in pre-quarantine," Panuelo said. "Simply canceling repatriation flights is not politically or economically feasible because the results would mean numerous schools shutting down, infrastructure projects being lost, and assets for tackling illegal fishing being shifted elsewhere.” All other requirements for repatriation into the FSM remain unchanged, such as possession of documentary evidence of persons being fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and the submission of appropriate forms.
Two repatriation flights are scheduled to arrive from Guam to Pohnpei on Sept. 16. Another flight is scheduled for Sept. 30 for essential workers such as doctors, engineers, and teachers.
The repatriation dates for citizens returning to Yap and Kosrae have yet to be finalized. Chuuk officials said the state may be prepared for its first direct repatriation flight sometime in October.
As of Sept. 6, a total of 560 persons have been repatriated to FSM, where approximately 60 percent of the adult population have been fully vaccinated and about 70 percent are partially vaccinated.