58 stranded Palau residents to fly home this week

The Palau Government tested the repatriation protocols before actual implementation. This week, more than 50 stranded Palau residents are finally going home, (From the Palau Office of the President)

58 stranded Palau residents in Guam and Taiwan will be flying home this week.

The group — which includes a number of University of Guam students and medical referral patients from Taiwan — will return to Palau on chartered flights scheduled for June 10 and 12.

According to the Office of the President of Palau, the chartered flights that will bring them have implemented precautionary measures to reduce the risk of infection. These precautions include the use of masks, adequate spacing between passengers, and cleaning and disinfecting procedures.

At least 72 hours before their scheduled flight, the passengers will also go through COVID-19 testing. Passengers coming from Guam are also required to complete the 14-day mandatory quarantine before the flight.

Since the Taiwan medical referral patients have been in a more controlled environment, they are not required to go through quarantine but they too will be tested 72 hours before departure.

All passengers will be transported straight to the airports, where contact will be restricted to just airport personnel.

The passengers will be screened upon arrival at the Palau International Airport and then escorted through immigration, baggage claim, and customs. All passengers will be transported straight to the government-designated quarantine facilities.

Just recently, Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr. updated the Palau Ministry of Health staff on the government’s plan to bring back the stranded residents.

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More than two months

“If we take extra precautionary measures to ensure that repatriated residents do not have contact with the rest of the population, and testing indicates that they do not have COVID-19, we reduce the risk of importation and spread, while we bring home our stranded citizens and residents safely,” said Palau Health Minister, Dr. Emais Roberts, in a release announcing the repatriation plans.

“We are not helpless against COVID-19. In fact, as a small country with a single primary point of entry, we are uniquely prepared to manage safe travel without importing the coronavirus. Our people have been working toward this day for almost three months, around the clock. They are ready, and we are ready,” Remengesau Jr. said.

Remengesau added: “COVID-19 presents real risks, but they are manageable risks. It is time to begin managing them. Many countries around the world have implemented repatriation efforts to bring home their residents, and Palau needs to protect its own as well. We have taken extra measures to ensure the safe repatriation of our residents.”

According to Palau Vice President Raynold B. Oilouch, chairman of the National Emergency Committee, the government has been preparing for the repatriation of its citizens for more than two months.