Pohnpei planning to repatriate a small number of its residents from Guam on October 10

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


September 20, 2020

Pohnpei—Pohnpei has provisionally set October 10 as the date for the first arrival of patients and their attendants who were off island for medical referral when the COVID-19 related travel ban to the FSM was established.  Some students who had been studying in Guam when the travel ban was established could also be repatriated at that time. Two doctors who have been stranded since March 21 will also travel on the return flight.

“We’ve indicated to national that they can bring all Micare medical referrals (from Pohnpei) who are stranded in Guam,” Pohnpei’s Chief of Staff Suzanne Gallen said.  However some of those patients are receiving medical care in Guam that they can’t get in Pohnpei. “MiCare will advise within the next few days if they will make the flight or stay back for more treatment.”

Right now it looks like approximately 30 people could be part of the October 10 flight. No passengers will be allowed to disembark in Chuuk.

The FSM has made financial arrangements with the Santa Fe Hotel to be used as a quarantine center for passengers who will be the first to return to Pohnpei.  They will be required to quarantine at that facility for 14 days before the October 10 flight which means they would have to entered quarantine by September 26 at the latest.

Gallen said that the FSM has also contracted Health Services of the Pacific to do medical monitoring and testing for COVID-19 at the quarantine facility in Guam.  Palau earlier also hired the company to test its citizens before they were allowed to return home.

On landing in Pohnpei, the passengers will immediately enter quarantine for another 14 days and will also be tested before they will be allowed to return to their homes.

Gallen says that it is trying to coordinate another simulation exercise a few days before the scheduled return of the flight.  Though she says that it is expected that the simulation exercise will go well because of the exercises that preceded it and lessons learned there, another exercise would give the Task Force opportunity to make any of the corrections that are caught on that day.  “The likelihood is very small that it won’t go well,” Gallen said.

The FSM government, MiCare, and the FSM Consulate in Guam is currently in the process of informing FSM citizens in Guam of the requirements for this first re-entry.

Gallen said that the Pohnpei government will base future repatriation plans on the success of the currently schedule repatriation procedure.

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