Palau shores up defence for likely Covid-19 cases

Palau is one of the few nations, which has no confirmed cases of the highly-contagious novel coronavirus but said it is putting up defenses to prepare for likely cases.

On Sunday, the National Emergency Committee (NEC) said all hands were working on "developing and implementing plans and measures to better prepare and prevent the entry and spread of Covid-19."

On Friday, the construction of a Covid-19 testing facility began and was expected to be completed this week.

The NEC and the Ministry of Health were also working with numerous hoteliers that had offered their properties as isolation sites for passengers' 14-day quarantine.

Work had also been done to identify a site for an isolation ward that could accommodate up to 50 patients.

Major infrastructure work on the alternate care site had been completed and is expected to be operational shortly.

The NEC also said that through a partnership with the Taiwan government and Shin Kong Hospital, 1,000 Covid-19 test kits, medical supplies and equipment would be arriving in Palau on 1 April.

Taiwan was also sending a technician and an expert from the hospital to help health officials install medical equipment and train personnel on how to test and operate the equipment.

The donated test kits, supplies, and equipment were being flown to Palau via chartered aircraft made possible by the Ministry of Health through grant assistance.

MOH was also working closely with other partners to bring in additional Covid-19 testing kits over the next few days and weeks.

Last week, the government announced it would not be accepting incoming passengers until 9 April to allow the nation enough time to establish a quarantine facility, set up required procedures and obtain test kits.

United Airlines is scheduled to resume flights with passenger arrivals and departures once a week beginning 9 April.

For cargo and mail services, APA (Asia Pacific Airlines) will provide air transport services once a week without interruption.

The Matson shipping company was continuing to do its regular shipments.

The government urged the public to practice social distancing - schools were closed and big sports gatherings were also prohibited.

Several businesses and establishments in Palau had also limited social contacts to limit the spread of the virus.