Kosrae's Covid case deemed historical; Panuelo calls on citizens to get vaxxed
Palikir, Pohnpei— The case of a Kosrae child earlier reported to have tested positive for Covid-19 was determined historical and non-infectious, the Federated States of Micronesia government announced Saturday. While FSM remains coronavirus-free and its borders are still closed, President David Panuelo called on the people to get vaccinated.
“The vaccine is free. The vaccine is safe,” he said. “The vaccine is how we open our borders, rebuild our economy, and emerge from the status of Covid-19 free to the status of Covid-19 protected.” On social media, citizens raised their concerns, asking the government to “stop the repatriation.”
“This is a scary idea,” Jayleen Encher wrote.
“This is just totally disastrous. FSM people don't have any idea what this virus could bring to the FSM nation: death. Please stop the repatriation before it's too late. This virus is no joke,” Efson Freddy wrote.
Panuelo sought to allay the citizens' fears, saying the vaccine would protect the community against Covid-19.
“The vaccine is how families will reconnect with each other, and the liberties we've been asked to give up for the public good will come back,” the president said.
“I call upon each and every one of you, then, to take the Covid-19 vaccine for your neighbors. I can think of nothing more descriptive of our Micronesian love, our Micronesian Tiahk-en-Wahu, that is, our tradition of respect, than to take the Covid-19 vaccine,” he added. Meanwhile, health authorities reported that the child, who tested Covid positive via the NAAT/PCR test, has come up as negative through subsequent antigen tests on Friday. Health officials agreed that the results showed no evidence of active infection and that the individual was negative for any coronavirus-related illness. The initial positive results, they said, indicated that the child might have been previously exposed to Covid-19 in previous months. The child arrived in Kosrae on July 19, along with 17 other FSM citizens who were repatriated from Guam, where they were stranded for more than a year. “While the conclusion reached is that the case is historical and so the individual has very little chance of passing the virus to any other person, the government of the Federated States of Micronesia and Kosrae State government’s respective medical teams agreed to continue following prescribed protocols and appropriate caution. The government said the individual will remain in isolation and quarantine for 14 days and will be tested again on day 14. The previous decisions regarding extending, and restarting, the quarantine countdown for the other repatriating persons remain the same, each will undergo a 14 day quarantine period, complete with additional testing to follow. While the planned Aug. 9 repatriation flight will be delayed, officials said, future repatriation flights will continue into Kosrae on a regularly scheduled basis. Interstate travel between Kosrae and other FSM states will continue without restrictions.
In Hawaii, where he is meeting with the U.S. officials on national security issues, Panuelo said: “I’ve given some thought to the relationship between service in the U.S. Armed Forces and service among people at large.”
He noted that Micronesians join the U.S. Armed Forces at the highest rate per capita, higher than any U.S. state.
“So we can say that Micronesians are willing to take a bullet for our country, for this beautiful paradise in our backyards,” he said.
“If we are willing to take a bullet for our country, we should also be willing to take a Covid-19 vaccine for our neighbors. I have taken the Covid-19 vaccine. The first lady has taken the Covid-19 vaccine. My Cabinet has taken the Covid-19 vaccine. Even my 86-year-old mother has taken the vaccine.”