Short FSM reprieve as its first suspected COVID-19 cases in Pohnpei and Yap test negative for the virus
- Category: News
- Published: Thursday, 26 March 2020 22:41
- Written by Bill Jaynes
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Responders struggle with learning curve and urge continued vigilance by FSM residents
By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press
March 20, 2020
FSM—As of today, the Federated States of Micronesia officially announced that after testing for suspected cases the FSM has NO cases of COVID-19. The tests for the three people who presented with suspect symptoms in Yap and the one in Pohnpei all came back negative for the novel coronavirus.
Though the news is good news, health officials are cautioning residents to remain vigilant by continuing the practices of social distancing and thorough and frequent hand washing. The Task Force in Pohnpei says that if you have COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath and body aches) DO NOT go to the hospital, clinics or dispensaries as this can cause further spread. In Pohnpei call 320-3109 if you are experiencing symptoms and don’t ignore symptoms. Do not attend public gatherings or crowds. No not come in close contact with anyone who has fever and a cough.
FSM and State governments have assured FSM citizens that freight will continue to be carried and have asked residents not to stockpile supplies as more will come and stockpiling deprives others of supplies they may need while you don’t use them.
Several times United Airlines has announced flight cancellations due to the arrival of the virus in Hawaii and in Guam. According to The Village travel agency, who has not received an official notification from United Airlines who also did not confirm them for us, today was to be the last full island hopper flight from Hawaii to Guam until May 3, but it did not arrive. This weekend they will do a short island hopper flight from Guam to Pohnpei and back again and will repeat that flight again on Monday. After this weekend’s flights the short route will only fly on Saturdays until May 3. Those route announcements are subject to change. Kosrae will not have another flight from United until May 3.
Asia Pacific Airlines will continue to carry cargo to FSM’s states during that time.
Misinformation on social media and by word of mouth has become a big factor that FSM health practitioners have not had to deal with during past viral outbreaks like SARS or the Cholera epidemic. The public is challenged not to share misinformation and rumors or discriminate against anyone associated with COVID-19. Don’t believe everything you read on social media or on the Internet in general.
Unfortunately, according to comments on social media, some residents of Pohnpei took the negative test result as a sign that all is well. One FB poster wrote that the danger was over for now so they could go back to the sakau market. Others agreed, however, the virus itself has not yet been defeated in the world and social gatherings are still a dangerous idea for all concerned. Though the FSM has yet to have an identified case of COVID-19, it does NOT mean that COVID-19 is not already here and each person should act as if they are a transmitter of the disease and take precautions to avoid the possibility of infecting everyone they care about.
Another person on Facebook wanted to know why people are still in quarantine if the test came back negative. People are in quarantine because they have come to Pohnpei on a flight that may have been carrying people who are infected but don’t yet know it yet; people who perhaps traveled from Guam or Hawaii where the COVID-19 virus has definitely been identified. The quarantine is for observation of arriving passengers to ensure that they do not have the virus in order to protect the community.
As the press release from the National Government on page seven of this issue says, ALL travelers arriving in the FSM must be quarantined for 14 days. For now, no travelers are allowed to disembark in Chuuk while it makes quarantine arrangements it apparently had not made before the virus arrived in Hawaii and in Guam despite having been given funding to do so. Pohnpei will allow only residents to enter except for invited medical professionals and those residents will need to be evaluated for quarantine. Qualified doctors make the call on how long a traveler must be quarantined based on a variety of factors and their professional opinion. Only they can authorize release a person earlier than 14 days. Some have been released earlier or even never admitted at all based on standards and qualifications that the doctors know.Add a comment