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Health chief says Marshall Islands needs to go back to normal as soon as possible



By Mar-Vic Cagurangan


The Marshall Islands is recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic faster than expected and is now ready to go back to normal, according to Health Secretary Jack Niedenthal.


"We need to get our children educated, we need them back into our schools as soon as possible," the health secretary said in a statement posted on his Facebook page. "We need to move toward getting our hospitals back to normal, too."


He said the Marshall Islands needs to reopen its borders and allow people to travel freely.


"I say this in part because we need to get medical professionals into the RMI to fix equipment at our hospitals, some of which have been broken for quite some time, and we need to get referral patients back into the country," he said.


"Most countries in the Pacific now have no Covid-19 travel restrictions, we need to move in this direction as soon as possible. It is now time to move toward getting back to normal."

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The Marshall Islands has recorded a total of 17 Covid-related deaths but the public health agency has noted that people who got infected with the virus are quickly recovering.


"We only had 11 positive Covid-19 cases on Majuro despite having all the sites open, and only five cases on Ebeye," Niedenthal said. “We continue to see large numbers of recovering cases each day, now 12,337 of the 15,007 RMI Covid cases have recovered, as we consider them recovered after 10 days go by after people were first reported as positive, this is a standard method of reporting recovered cases."

The department logged two deaths two days ago, bringing the Marshall Islands' Covid death toll to 17.


"Almost all of these deaths were people who were either unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated, 13 of the 17 deaths were DOAs (dead on arrival before they got to the hospital)," Niedenthal said.


He noted that the fatality rate for the Marshall Islands is .11 percent, which is one of the lowest in the world and only equaled by Palau.


"The U.S. has a 1.1 percent fatality rate for Covid-19, had we had that fatality rate here in the RMI, we would have had 165 deaths over the last 3 plus weeks," he said.


Fiji’s fatality rate for Covid-19 is even higher at 1.3 percent. "That would have meant 195 deaths for the Marshall islands," Niedenthal said.


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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention described the Covid-19 outbreak response in the Marshall Islands as "unprecedented."


"This is because even though we had the fastest Covid-19 outbreak the world has ever seen with only very meager resources to do battle with, we still managed to put the outbreak down in record time," Niedenthal said.


"I can’t say enough about our healthcare workers and their dedication to our people during these trying times, working many, many hours even though their families and sometimes they themselves were also sick," Niedenthal said.


Overall, he added, the government and the community "responded with equal grace."


"We have begun immunizing children for all diseases (not just Covid) at all the ACS sites," Niedenthal said. "All of our clinics and services will start opening back up in the coming days and weeks. The ER is always open and ready to receive patients with doctors standing by to help on both Majuro and Ebeye."



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