The first group of people to be repatriated to the Federated States of Micronesia since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic arrived in Pohnpei from Guam on May 13 and 14.
Forty-two FSM citizens were on board the two humanitarian flights conducted by the US Coast Guard and funded by the US government. The group spent seven days in a quarantine facility in Guam before being repatriated and are now doing another seven-day quarantine in Pohnpei.
Stranded medical patients and their care givers, students, and essential personnel make up the majority of the group’s members. They were all scheduled to return in December, 2020, but that trip was cancelled by President David Panuelo because of concerns of the virus spreading to the FSM community.
According to the FSM Information Services, all of the passengers had multiple Covid tests before and during the quarantine and most had proof of being fully vaccinated. Those without completed vaccinations will be held in quarantine for 14 days.
President Panuelo thanked the Coast Guard officers, saying: “You are the ones who executed our nation’s first successful repatriation effort, and you have done so flawlessly. You have the appreciation of our government and our people. Our FSM-US enduring partnership exists because of acts of service like yours, and it is acts of service like yours that continue to strengthen our close bonds.”
The US Embassy in Kolonia said in a release April 6 it was working in collaboration with the US Coast Guard to provide two humanitarian flights from Guam. “Both flights’ costs will be fully covered by the US Government and will include passengers selected by FSM government officials and members of the US Embassy Team.”
According to the FSM Information Services office, the collaboration follows a request in the form of a diplomatic note from President Panuelo to the US government.
The President also thanked the Pohnpei Surf Club and the FSM Consulate in Guam for providing photos of the humanitarian flights.
The FSM government has scheduled a second repatriation of citizens, this time from the Marshall Islands. According to the FSM Information Services, this is currently set for May 31.
President Panuelo sent out a message to all other citizens stranded in various countries: “To my dear fellow citizens still stranded abroad, please know that your government has not forgotten you, and is committed to getting you home.”