The presidents of the five Pacific island nations that have remained COVID- free since the pandemic started will be having a face-to-face leadership meeting next month.
The leaders of Palau, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Kiribati, and the Federated States of Micronesia are working together to hold the 2020 Micronesian Presidents’ Summit, which will be the largest in-person meeting of Pacific leaders since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
All five member countries of the MPS are currently COVID-19-free, which makes Micronesia one of the only regions on earth which can still claim that distinction.
According to an earlier release about the summit, the leaders plan to take advantage of this status, turning the event into a key forum for shared regional priorities including rapidly expanding debt-stress, leadership of the Pacific Islands Forum, and the possibility of regional travel-bubbles.
In a COVID-19 briefing this week, Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr. informed the community why Palau is hosting this year’s summit.
“The reason why we are holding it is because we wanted to showcase the fact that everything does not have to be economic or profit-oriented. You can lock down your borders..suffer the economic impact but ensure the health of our people. That’s really the message. We have been able to do it, all five countries of Micronesia, because we locked down our borders, simple as that,” he said.
Remengesau Jr. said Palau and the other COVID-free nations closed its borders at the onset of the pandemic. He said if the economic considerations were overpowering, Palau would have opened its border, but the Pacific culture is to prioritize the community first before making money.