FSM reports first COVID-19 positive case

FSM seal (PNC file photo)

The Federated States of Micronesia reported its first COVID-19 positive case — a crew member of a government-owned cargo and passenger vessel that returned to the FSM.

The FSM National Government said that the positive case is a crew member of MV Chief Mailo, a vessel that homeports in Chuuk State. The vessel docked in Pohnpei on Jan 6. 

The vessel left the FSM in late 2019 for drydock-based repairs in the Philippines. 

According to the FSM Government, the ship crew have been strictly confined to the ship since September 22, 2020. 

On January 7, 12 crew were tested for COVID-19. Out of the 12, one individual tested positive for COVID-19 after going through two tests. The tests were performed while the individual was in quarantine. 

Meanwhile, the healthcare workers who performed the tests on the crew are currently quarantined at Pohnpei’s China Start Hotel, currently the state Emergency Medical Unit. The healthcare workers have been tested for COVID-19, and their results returned negative.

 The crew is still in isolation on the MV Chief Mailo. 

The FSM National and Pohnpei State Governments said “the case is classified as an imported case, and does not present any immediate risk of the virus spreading to the broader community.“

“Before any National or State mandates take effect, together or separately, FSM President  David W. Panuelo and Pohnpei Governor Reed B. Oliver will make certain all positive indications are validated,” the FSM National and Pohnpei State Governments added.

According to the FSM National Government, the decision to return the MV Chief Mailo home in late December was made on the premise that the Government had two distinct choices: to see individuals in its skeleton crew leave their service in the Government, and force the Government to abandon the ship in the Philippines, which already was at high risk of piracy; or, to return the vessel to the FSM at the nearest opportunity. 

The Government chose for the vessel’s return to the FSM.

The FSM National Government said that they tested the crew of the MV Chief Mailo several times since September 22. Since all results returned negative, they said “they were of the view that such a return would be safe.”