Palikir, Pohnpei— Federated States of Micronesia President David W. Panuelo on Friday declared a state of public health emergency to protect the Nation and its citizens from the new coronavirus, imposing a ban on the entry of travelers from China into the country.
At the same time, Panuelo banned FSM citizens from traveling to China.
“All visitors, returning citizens, and residents, to the FSM will require a health form certifying that they do not presently show symptoms of the coronavirus and that they have resided in a coronavirus-free location for a minimum of 14 days,” FSM Information Service said in a press release.
Panuelo also formed a task force to coordinate all activities that need to be undertaken.
The task force’s duties will include the monitoring of individuals who arrive in the FSM for coronavirus symptoms.
“I will do whatever is necessary to protect our nation and our citizens,” Panuelo said. “Micronesians are renowned for their humility, respect and deference to others, and calm attitude toward challenges. The government is aware that citizens have reacted to the existence and speedy propagation of this new virus with an alarm that could be described as out-of-character, and I believe that the cause for these concerns are predicated on citizens’ legitimate worries that this virus may ultimately reach our shores.”
Panuelo vowed to “take every step available to make sure that Micronesians from Yap, from Chuuk, from Pohnpei and from Kosrae are safe.”
On Jan. 30, Panuelo wrote Chinese President Xi Jinping, expressing FSM’s condolences and sympathies to the people China.
“We are collaborating with the international community and partners such as the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, and actively contributing our own efforts to help contain any further spread of this virus,” Panuelo wrote.
“I compliment you and your Government for taking proactive, bold, and crucial efforts to protect human lives. As your Government progresses to rectify the suffering caused by this horrific phenomenon, I am confident that, under your able leadership, the people of China will overcome the continued spread of this new and deadly virus with courage and determination,” the president added.
“Our sympathies go out to you and the families of those whose lives were tragically taken by this epidemic.”
Panuelo also formally requested Xi’s assistance to ensure that the FSM’s six students in Wuhan City are safe.
The FSM Embassy in Beijing has been in constant contact with the students, who are safe and well-provided for but otherwise restrained to their university campus, FSIS said,
The FSM and Chinese governments have agreed that it is in the best interest of the students’ health and wellbeing that they remain precisely where they are.
“Other Pacific Islands, such as the Independent State of Samoa, have reached similar conclusions regarding their students in China,” the FSM government said.
On Jan. 30, the World Health Organization declared that the new coronavirus is a public health emergency of international concern, allowing the organization to boost funding and resources to contain the threat posed by coronavirus, including resources to the FSM.
In addition to enhanced surveillance at ports of entry, the FSM national government’s Executive Branch has been reprogramming resources and personnel to ensure the nation is protected in the event of the virus’ arrival, and to take all possible measures to ensure the virus doesn’t reach the FSM in the first place.
The president’s state of emergency declaration similarly allows the FSM national government greater capacity to tackle the health threat, FSMIS said.
Panuelo has submitted to the 21st Congress of the FSM a proposed bill appropriating an additional $301,478 from the general fund of the FSM to fund the various activities of the national government in response to the threats posed by the new coronavirus.