FSM may soon be able to do COVID-19 tests on its own

FSM seal (PNC file photo)

The Federated States of Micronesia may soon have the capacity to perform COVID-19 tests within its jurisdiction, without sending the samples off-island.

Currently, the FSM sends its samples to Hawaii and Guam. However, Richard Clark, the FSM Government’s public information officer, says FSM President David Panuelo wants to strengthen the FSM’s capacity to conduct the tests.

Aside from the testing equipment, the FSM is expecting test kits and ventilators to be shipped soon.

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“Through the defense provisions of the Compact of the Free Association, the United States of America has advised that we have gene expert machines … I believe that is the name of the device … that are on the way for us to have the capacity to perform COVID-19 tests in the nation. In addition to that, we are receiving a number of test kits to go with that,” Clark said.

During this week’s FSM Special Session with Congress, the COVID-19 response framework was discussed, which includes a $20 million budget with funding from development partners and federal sources such as the Office of Insular Affairs. The funds will be used to procure the equipment and other supplies needed by the FSM, among other requirements in the COVID-19 response plan.

“In our conversations at the end of January, the discussion was — we might have to send samples to the CDC in Atlanta. We can also send samples to Guam and Hawaii, but of course, President Panuelo, as well as the rest of the FSM government, has been looking forward to the capacity to test internally. That is something that we are expecting to have in the coming weeks,” Clark said.

President Panuelo issued the original FSM public health emergency declaration in January.