Cost of repatriating 143 Palauan students to reach $1M

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KOROR (Island Times/Pacnews) — The estimated costs of bringing back home 143 Palauan students and stranded citizens and putting them through two levels of quarantine, in Guam and in Palau will cost approximately $1,018,839, according to the report provided to the Olbiil Era Kelulau or the national legislature by the Office of the President on May 22, 2020.

In a letter to Senate President Hokkons Baules and House Speaker Sabino Anastacio, President Tommy Remengesau stated, “As you predicted in your letter, the $180,000 that was appropriated through RPPL 10-56 is not enough to repatriate all our stranded residents, or event to repatriate all stranded students only, under the conditions to which we have agreed. But it is certainly not enough to support these same people overseas indefinitely.” 

The letter and its attachments show detail breakdown of costs of quarantine in Guam and in Palau, the cost of materials, supplies and services related to the quarantine and processing of the persons listed as students or stranded citizens.

Costs of quarantine and testing of 50 people in Guam for 14 days is $161,341. The cost of another 14 days of quarantine and testing in Palau is $155,511. These do not include cost of chartering the flights. All together for 143 people, 14 days in Guam and 14 days in Palau, will be little over $1 million.

In addition to quarantine costs, Palau embassies are seeking additional funding of $447,552 to support stranded citizens through the end of June alone.

The letter states that with schools’ sessions concluding and stranded citizens running low on options, requests for assistance to Palau’s embassies have grown rapidly.

In order to minimize the risk of Covid-19 entering Palau, the plan to bring back students and stranded citizens is requiring rigorous process to ensure detection of potential case. The quarantine process in Guam according to the President’s missive to OEK states that the designated facility in Guam for quarantine will have full-time security to ensure no one leaves, to prevent mingling. Food, water and communication will be provided to minimize contact with outside persons and that any violation of testing or quarantine requirement on Guam will result in removal of the person from the charter flight.

The letter further states that the current inventory of supplies at Ministry of Health here in Palau are enough to handle quarantine process, this is due to generosity of Palau’s friends and partners.

Palau,  through the generosity of its allies and friends, has received so many supplies, equipment, medicine and funding to help its fight against Covid-19. Palau government appropriated little over $900,000 to Ministry of Health to prepare for Covid-19. MOH has received nearly $2.8 million in donations to help purchase specific equipment and supplies to expand capacity to handle Covid-19. Thousands of supplies of masks, lab testing supplies and equipment, PPEs, breathing support, test kits and more have been donated.

Without these donations, Palau would be inadequately prepared to even handle the quarantine of people.

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