PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On Oct. 27, 2020, the Federated States of Micronesia government completed the last of its technical requirements to initiate repatriation of the nation’s citizens from COVID-19-free jurisdictions.
The FSM states of Pohnpei and Kosrae will be accepting citizens stranded in the Republic of the Marshall Islands on Oct. 30, 2020.
Only FSM citizens will be repatriated on the flight, which is chartered through Air Marshall Islands. All citizens will be tested for COVID-19 prior to arrival, and will submit themselves to standardized quarantine procedures in Pohnpei and Kosrae, to include additional COVID-19 testing prior to entry into the community.
At the same time that the FSM government was finalizing the remaining details on the repatriation effort from the Marshall Islands, FSM president David W. Panuelo spoke for approximately three hours in a teleconference with the stranded MiCare medical patients. The purpose of the teleconference was to give the stranded citizens the opportunity to hear from the president himself as to what the nation is doing to assist FSM’s stranded citizens.
While the president’s answers were broadly consistent with the information relayed to the public from the Office of the President’s Division of Public Information and the FSM COVID-19 Task Force’s Risk Communications team, such as that the 12 medical patients alone have received $470,000 in total per diems and other MiCare assistance, Panuelo announced that the nation is looking into collaborating with the United States to conduct a humanitarian assistance flight on or around the time of Operation Christmas Drop (i.e. approximately sometime in early December).
“We’re working with the U.S. to see the possibility of chartering a U.S. military aircraft, to see if it can coincide with the schedule of Operation Christmas Drop. I will ask that the U.S. cooperate with our parameters, such that the crew is tested for COVID-19 and follow decontamination procedures. Medical patients, the two FSM Congress senators, and diplomats from the United States, Japan, and Australia, would still undergo the pre-quarantine procedures at [a designated facility] for 14 days, including COVID-19 testing several times, and then possibly arrive sometime in December,” Panuelo said. “Because of the rapidly evolving situation with COVID-19, I am not promising that this will happen. But I want you to know that we are seriously exploring this. I appreciate that you want to be home before Christmas, and while I regret that I cannot promise that because I must protect the FSM from the virus, we do care about our citizens stranded abroad.” (PR)