Micronesia to reopen borders despite covid community spread

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FSM President David Panuelo
FSM President David Panuelo ... "These are dark days, but we will endure beyond them." Image: Kelvin Anthony/RNZ

RNZ Pacific

The Federated States of Micronesia will reopen its international borders on Monday.

President David Panuelo said anyone wishing to travel will need to be fully vaccinated, including boosters, against covid-19 and have had a PCR test 72 hours prior to departure.

The moves comes despite the country discovering its first case of covid on July 19.

Panuelo said community spread is increasing, and thousands of people are already infected.

In an address to the nation, he said he would soon issue a decree requiring everyone to wear masks in public places.

“I will require all persons who feel sick to get tested and to stay home,” he said.

“I will request that all citizens stay home unless it is essential for them to go to work, to go shopping, or to otherwise conduct necessary errands.”

Hard lockdown ruled out
But he has ruled out a hard lockdown to tackle the outbreak.

“The advice I have received from our Department of Health and Social Affairs is that the initial transition period from being covid-19 free to covid-19 infected will take about one to two months for each State.

“We will see cases rise, plateau, and then lowered in our country. Afterwards, we should be fully emerged into our new status of covid-19 protected.”

Starting on Friday, July 29, vaccines for infants aged between six months and four years old will be available across the country.

Panuelo said the FSM had “significant supplies” of the antiviral drug Paxlovid, and monoclonal antibodies to treat people.

“What is needed now is for all of us to work together in practising peace, friendship, cooperation, and love in our common humanity with each other,” Panuelo said.

“We need to get vaccinated. We need to get tested. And we need to stay home if we are sick or if our family is sick. These are dark days, but we will endure beyond them. The sun will rise tomorrow, and, God willing, we will adapt to and overcome covid-19.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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