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Private Japanese citizens in Pohnpei donate to the FSM fight against COVID-19

 

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

 

March 25, 2020

20200325 DSC03142Palikir, Pohnpei, FSM—This morning representatives of the Pohnpei Japan Club presented a donation of $1000 from the Japanese community in Pohnpei to Dr. Livingstone Taulung, Secretary of Health and Social Affairs.  “Pohnpei Japan Club decided to collect the donations from among Japanese people living in Pohnpei to make their contribution to the FSM’s fight against COVID-19,” said Japanese Ambassador to the FSM, Sobahshima Hidenobu.

In addition to the Ambassador, Koji Akinaga, Pohnpei Japan Club Vice President represented the club and presented the check to FSM Vice President Yosiwo George.  They challenged other groups to do the same. Both the Vice President and Secretary Taulung thanked the members of the club for the gesture.

Ambassador Sobahsima told the Vice President that the Embassy of Japan received the request last month for assistance from the government of the Federated States of Micronesia and has conveyed that request to the government of Japan immediately.  He said that it may take some time before his government makes a decision on that request.  He said that in the meantime Japan decided to contribute 15.5 billion Yen (approximately $143.5 million) to relevant international organizations for their work against COVID-19, including 5.5 billion Yen, or 46 million US dollars to the World Health Organization.

“The amount may be smaller than you have expected,” the Ambassador said of the donation from the Pohnpei Japan Club. “But I hope you could appreciate the gesture of the Japanese community to express their solidarity to the FSM who kindly hosts them during this difficult time in the FSM.  I am proud of this gesture and I am proud of the people who have donated.  I hope that this donation, although not big, will be efficiently utilized for the FSM to fight COVID-19.”

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Swearing in of new Executive Director for Pohnpei Housing Authority:

Enginkehlap news

Office of the Governor, Pohnpei State

726452A swearing-in cermony was held on Monday, March 23, 2020 for the new Executive Director of Pohnpei State Housing Authority, Mr. Onlino Lawrence, at the Pohnpei State Housing Authority Office. The ceremony was attended by members of the 10th Pohnpei State Legislature, Kitti traditional leadership, housing authority staff and Public Affairs Office staff.

This was the first government ceremony since the Governor’s issuance of the Public Gathering Advisory and in full compliance, attendees maintained social distancing of 3 to 6 feet. Governor Oliver congratulated the new Executive Director and asked that he and his staff look at new ways to help the people of Pohnpei including asurvey to help determine the housing needs of Pohnpei.

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Compact Funding to Help Build and Repair COVID-19 Quarantine Facilities in the FSM

$416,918 Infrastructure Maintenance Funding for Chuuk State

Office of the Assistant Secretary

Insular and International Affairs

 

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Douglas W. Domenech announced the release of Compact of Free Association financial assistance to the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). These emergency funds will help support and strengthen hospital and quarantine infrastructure in Chuuk State as the FSM works to contain the spread and impacts of the global coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

 “We have redirected $416,918 in prior-year Compact Infrastructure Maintenance Fund assistance to strengthen FSM’s efforts in preparing for this global pandemic,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech. “At the direction of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, we are moving quickly and decisively to support the FSM, which is critical in these difficult times,” continued Domenech.

“The U.S. and the FSM members of the Joint Economic Management Committee (JEMCO) are in favor of this decision to direct Compact funds towards COVID-19 infrastructure maintenance,” said JEMCO Chairman and Office of Insular Affairs Director Nikolao Pula. “We applaud officials, health care workers, and all at the national and state levels as they work to protect lives in the FSM.”

“The United States and the FSM share a special and unique relationship,” said U.S. Ambassador to the FSM Carmen G. Cantor. “The United States government is committed to working with the FSM to advance their response capabilities to this global pandemic.”

Additional Compact funding requests are being prepared for review by the Office of Insular Affairs as the FSM finalizes its COVID-19 Preparation and Response Plan. The plan will then be submitted to the United States Government to ensure coordination of efforts.

For more information about the work of the Office of Insular Affairs, visit http://www.doi.gov/oia or follow on Twitter @ASIIADomenech.

The Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, and the Office of Insular Affairs carry out the Secretary of the Interior’s responsibilities for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, OIA administers and oversees federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.

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FSM President to provide teleconferencing equipment to state Governors to expand communications

State of Yap

Department of Youth & Civic Affairs

 

Colonia, Yap-  Governor Henry Falan of the State of Yap expressed his deep gratitude to FSM President David Panuelo for “all the assistance and support that your Administration has extended to your State of Yap in the midst of this pandemic crisis.” Dated March 26, 2020, the letter followed a meeting via phone conferencing the prior day between the two leaders.

The purpose of the meeting was “to discuss issues concerning Yap State’s needs during this crisis and for us to agree on ways to mutually move forward as a nation inclusive of the other three states.”

The outcomes of the meeting included the agreement for Yap to join its sister states, Chuuk and Pohnpei, in prohibiting the disembarkation of aircraft passengers until further notice. In a press release issued by the president’s office after the meeting, it was also announced that, “while aircraft may continue to arrive in Yap State for the delivery of cargo—and such continued cargo services are encouraged and welcomed—no individual regardless of origin may disembark from aircraft into the FSM States of Yap (as well as Chuuk and Pohnpei).”

Further, it was confirmed by President Panuelo during the meeting that, “in an effort to ensure the continued supply of essential goods and services, the 14-day delay for cargo and tanker vessels prior to entering the Nation is now rescinded. In lieu of the 14-day delay requirement, shipping lines must comply with extra health precaution measures supervised by the FSM State Departments of Health and Port Authorities. Fishing vessels licensed in the FSM and arriving into the Nation’s borders are still subject to their requirements, including 14-day quarantines.”

Governor Falan commended the president for his steadfastness in holding the nation together “in this very difficult time of combating this novel pandemic, most especially for taking the time to communicate with the four governors of the states to ensure that we all are in this combat together and must pull our efforts and resources concertedly.”

During the meeting, President Panuelo offered additional help to Yap State and the other states in setting up their own teleconferencing capability for use during the covid-19 crisis. The governor recommended using his conference room so that the president and the governors can “videoconference regularly” while also allowing the Health Crisis Task Forces in all four states to use the equipment to coordinate their efforts while travel is temporarily on hold.

Following the meeting, Carlson D. Apis, FSM Secretary of the Department of Transportation, Communication & Infrastructure, communicated via email with Leo Falcam Jr., Chief of Staff to President Panuelo, and Francis Itimai, Chief of Staff to Governor Falan, to put the plan in place for the immediate setup of the teleconferencing equipment.

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Governor and Lt. Governor meet with Social Security and lending institutions on COVID-19 response

fgfghdfdsawerwrwrOn Wednesday March 26, 2020 Governor Oliver and Lieutenant Governor Perman met with representatives from Pohnpei's banking and lending institutions and the FSM Social Security Administration. Each representative shared their institution's current measures being implemented in response to COVID-19 including limited services, decreased hours and loan deferments. Measures being taken are also in accordance with Pohnpei State’s Public Gathering Advisory issued on March 16, 2020.

Bank of FSM indicated that they will likely be offering a loan deferment program soon. Bank of Guam is already offering loan deferments for up to 3 months, Mesenieng Credit Union is offering a 30 day loan deferment and FSM Development Bank will be offering deferments to businesses and other customers directly affected by the current COVID-19 crisis. The FSM Social Security Administration informed the Governor and representatives that approximately 300 people will be receiving their social security checks on Monday, March 30, 2020. SSA is taking measures to comply with the State’s Public Gathering Advisory including allowing only three people at at time in their office to receive checks, setting up a tent outside and encouraging the elderly to send their authorized representatives to pick up their check. Given that the elderly population and people with co-morbidities are most vulnerable to the virus, the public is asked to please assist in sharing this information as widely as possible to help safeguard our elderly population. Please note: If you are making loan payments by allotment, it is your responsibility to stop the allotment with your employer, not the bank.

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Governor meets with Mayor of Kolonia Town to discuss COVID-19 response efforts

fgfghdfdsawerwrwrOn Thursday, March 26, 2020, Mayor of Kolonia Town Government, TH Peterigo paid a visit to Governor Oliver. The purpose of the visit was to align Kolonia Town Government's actions with the state. Governor Oliver gave a brief overview of Pohnpei's COVID-19 response efforts with input from acting Director of Public Safety, Mr. Patrick Carl, Public Affairs Officer, Mr. Heinrick Stevenson and Local Government Liaison, Ms. Suannrita Ladore.

Mayor Jacob expressed his gratitude to the Governor and his staff and informed them that the Kolonia Town Government would be meeting the following day to prepare a contingency plan that is in alignment with the State's COVID-19 response efforts. Governor Oliver thanked the Mayor and Kolonia Town Government for their cooperation and support.

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Interior Provides $858,924 to procure GeneXpert COVID-19 testing kits and machine for the U.S. Pacific Territories and Freely Associated States

Office of the Assistant Secretary

Insular and International Affairs

 

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Douglas W. Domenech announced $858,924 in Technical Assistance Program (TAP) emergency grant funding to the Pacific Island Health Officers Association (PIHOA) to procure GeneXpert testing kits and a machine for the U.S. Pacific territories and freely associated states so that they may now conduct on-island testing during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Funding will be used to purchase newly developed COVID-19 testing kits for American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands as well as the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Funds will also be used to purchase one GeneXpert back-up machine for the region.

“Secretary Bernhardt and I are pleased to support the purchase of testing materials and the machine in facilitating island health officials to conduct on-site testing for COVID-19 cases during this pandemic,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech. “Travel restrictions imposed to protect island communities from COVID-19 have delayed and restricted options for centralized lab testing services, but recent Emergency Use Authorization announcements made by President Trump and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have opened other opportunities for on-site testing. This is critical for island area health officials as they work to protect their communities,” concluded Domenech.

The PIHOA has confirmed that all health departments in the Pacific territories and the freely associated states currently have the testing equipment, lab infrastructure, skills, and practical knowledge base to set up and run localized COVID-19 testing using the GeneXpert platform as they currently run similar tests on the same platform for other diseases, such as tuberculosis. PIHOA is working with regional and local health authorities to assess needs and will conduct a regional bulk procurement of newly developed COVID-19 testing kits and a back-up GeneXpert machine for the island areas.

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