FSM agrees in principle to US humanitarian flight for initial repatriation of some citizens and diplomats

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press


November 16, 2020

FSM—According to a widely circulated Diplomatic Note from the FSM Department of Foreign Affairs the FSM COVID-19 Taskforce approved in principle “the offer by the United States to charter a humanitarian flight to repatriate citizens and diplomatic community members, who are stranded in Guam and beyond on December 5.”

The letter says that FSM National Government is prioritizing the repatriation of medical patients and their respective attendants, elected officials, diplomats, and students.

“In a meeting with senior staff today, November 13th, 2020, His Excellency David W. Panuelo emphasized to the FSM COVID-19 Task Force that it is the position of the FSM National Government that the repatriation effort occur, without any hesitation or reservation, so long as the Government's procedural and medical requirements are adhered to in full,” the letter said.

It then sets out those requirements.  All individuals must acquire a negative COVID-19 test result prior to entry into the Nation’s designated pre-quarantine facility in Guam which is the Santa Fe Hotel.  All individuals traveling to Guam for the purpose of entry into the pre-quarantine facility must take strong precautionary measures, such as wearing a mask at all times when in public, and avoiding non-essential activities while in transit.  All individuals must follow all pre-quarantine procedures, including all COVID-19 testing requirements, when they are at the pre-quarantine facility.

All drivers and vehicles bringing travelers to the aircraft for the purpose of the FSM’s December 5 repatriation effort must be wearing appropriate personal protection equipment such as masks and gloves, and the must be tested negative for COVID-19 within 24-48 hours of the transportation effort, and the vehicles should be appropriately disinfected.

The aircraft bringing travelers to the FSM for the purpose of the December 5th, 2020 repatriation effort must be appropriately disinfected, with all pilots and crew tested negative for COVID-19 within 24-48 hours of the transportation effort. The safety of all passengers, and specifically the safety and comfort of the medical patients and their attendants, is of paramount importance. All individuals on the aircraft must be required to wear a mask, and there must be hand sanitizer available for all individuals in substantial quantities.

The letter says that the FSM Government will be sending a more detailed description of medical procedures and requirements.

The FSM Government says that it is willing and able to accommodate eight diplomats on the flight which would be a US military transport and not a commercial airliner.  Seven of those would be allowed to leave the aircraft on arrival and enter their vehicles without contact with any individual for immediate personal transportation to their 14-day home quarantine sites.  The approved diplomats for home quarantine are US Ambassador Carmen Cantor, her spouse, and her two daughters; US Deputy Chief of Mission H. Kristin Westphal; and H.E. Jo Crawley, Ambassador of Australian, and her spouse.

Japan’s Deputy Chief of Mission, Mizuuchi Kentaro would be required to serve his FSM-based quarantine time in the Government-designated quarantine facility.

At press time, it was not clear whether or not Pohnpei’s Task Force had yet agreed to the proposed plan. A meeting to discuss the matter was scheduled for late this afternoon after press time.

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