Oregon woman hospitalized in Palau with respiratory symptoms passed through Guam; coronavirus testing underway

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Palau Ministry of Health

The Palau Ministry of Health has confirmed that an Oregon woman hospitalized in Palau with respiratory symptoms passed through Guam first.

As of Wednesday, samples from the woman were being prepared to be sent off-island for testing to determine whether the woman is suffering from the coronavirus. Officials in Palau stress that since testing has not been completed, they can’t say yet whether she has the virus or not.

The woman is considered to be a Person Under Investigation (PUI) for COVID-19.

In a statement sent to PNC, Gustap Salii, MOH EOC Public Information Officer, said the 73-year-old female health worker flew from Oregon state and transited through Hawaii and Guam before coming to Palau.

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Adelup has released a statement saying that at the time of transit through Guam, the individual was asymptomatic.

The health worker arrived on Feb. 20 with the Canvasback Medical Team. The nonprofit organization partners with volunteers in bringing specialty health and medical care to Pacific islands.

According to MOH, the patient was placed in isolation at the Belau National Hospital. Salii also confirmed that samples from the patient were taken on Wednesday and are being sent to two laboratories for COVID-19 testing.

“The patient is in stable condition right now.  Specimens have been collected and are being sent to Hawaii State Lab and also to a medical lab in Taiwan.”

Salii added, “She was not sick nor was she experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms when she arrived in Palau on February 20th.”

Meanwhile,  Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr. released a statement on Wednesday morning assuring the community that emergency protocols were immediately enacted following the report.

“We will provide the latest information as information becomes available. Palau and our partners at the CDC are equipped to manage the situation should the patient receive a positive test. As in so many situations like this, fear — not a germ — is our biggest enemy,” Remengesau Jr. said.

Guam officials collaborated with the Republic of Palau Ministry of Health and CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine to conduct a risk assessment on this case.

Based on the case investigation, CDC has determined that at this time, an air contact investigation is not required.

According to Adelup, Guam is ready to take action with CDC if the test results change the risk assessment.

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