Palau president: ‘At this time, no indication coronavirus is responsible for patient’s symptoms’

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Following reports that a U.S. health worker has been placed in isolation as a Person Under Investigation (PUI) for COVID-19, Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr. says  “At this time, there is no indication that the coronavirus is responsible for the patient’s symptoms or that the community has been exposed to the virus.”

On Tuesday, March 3, the Palau Ministry of Health (MOH) reported that health authorities have started investigating a potential coronavirus case in Palau. The patient is a 73-year-old female visitor from Oregon State with underlying conditions. The patient came to Palau with a visiting medical team.

According to MOH, the patient was placed in isolation at the Belau National Hospital. Public health providers also started investigating other individuals who were exposed to the patient.

Following the detection of the potential COVID-19 case, MOH also contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to MOH, samples from the patient will be sent today to a CDC-approved laboratory and possibly to a testing facility in Taiwan, for COVID-19 confirmatory testing.

In light of the concerns over the coronavirus situation, Remengesau Jr. said emergency protocols were enacted but the patient has not yet tested positive for the illness.

Here’s President Tommy Remengesau Jr’s statement in FULL:

“On March 2020, the Ministry of Health announced that a US healthworker with flu symptoms was admitted to Belau National Hospital. In light of the concerns over the international coronavirus situation, emergency protocols were enacted BUT the patient has NOT tested positive for the illness. Palau takes all public health risks seriously and we are working closely with the United Nations World Health Organization (UN-WHO), the United States Centers for Disease Control (US-CDC) with assistance and support from the Republic of China, Taiwan and Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (TW-CDC) to determine IF the patient is infected and to ensure the highest-level response possible. At this time, there is no indication that the coronavirus is responsible for the patient’s symptoms or that the community has been exposed to the virus. Still, as the MOH reminds us, it is always wise to practice common-sense personal hygiene: Cover cough and sneeze with a clean tissue or your sleeve and wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water, or at least 70% alcohol-based sanitizer. There is no indication at this point that the patient is suffering from anything other than the common cold. 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.”