“A lot of work must be done in the days and months ahead prior to opening of RMI borders in October” — this was the overall message government officials delivered during the two-day Covid Summit at the International Conference Center (ICC) July 14 and 15.
The summit was divided into two days to incorporate and dialogue with the business sector/NGOs and government entities.
Ministry of Natural Resources and Commerce Secretary Iva Reimers-Roberto officially announced the Cabinet-endorsed Roadmap for opening the borders. In the Roadmap are prerequisites that must be implemented prior to October. Majority of the prerequisites are for the Ministry of Health and Human Services, Iva said. Such prerequisite includes the creation of alternate care sites and mandatory infection training to front liners.
In addition, MOHHS announced launching vaccinations for five-year old and younger children starting next week in Majuro and late July for Kwajalein.
The inclusion of the children in the vaccination program will add an additional layer of defense once Covid gets into the community after the borders are open.
Those who have not been vaccinated or haven’t received their booster shots were advised to do so.
Health Secretary Jack Niedenthal and Public Health Director Dr. Frank Underwood led presentations at the forum with support from the Office of the Chief Secretary (OCS).
Despite borders opening up later in the year, people are still required to register with OCS prior to arriving in country. Those wishing to enter the RMI must provide proof of vaccination and be tested negative prior to boarding a United Airlines flight to RMI.
In other Covid news:
• Covid showed its insidious signature this week, spreading without invitation into RMI’s neighbors Kosrae and Pohnpei two weeks before the FSM’s announced August 1 border reopening. The development that became publicly known Tuesday this week prompted RMI Health authorities to increase random Covid testing of RMI citizens, which had been started recently due to the escalation in border cases of Covid this month at the three RMI quarantine sites in Majuro and Kwajalein. Two of the four states in the Federated States of Micronesia on Tuesday reported their first community spread of Covid since the pandemic began in early 2020, ending the FSM’s status as one of a handful of Covid-free countries globally.
• The RMI launched its first Covid vaccine efforts for young children in the six-month to five-year-old age group Monday this week at Majuro hospital. The event brought out dozens of parents and grandparents with young kids in tow to receive their first Covid shot. “We had over 30 kids under the age of five get vaccinated at our rollout,” said Health Secretary Niedenthal. The ceremony featured announcements from Ministry of Health and Human Services officials about the vaccine rollout for young children, which follows US Food and Drug Administration approval of use of both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccines. Moderna requires two shots spaced four-to-eight weeks apart, while Pfizer needs three doses, with the second taken between three and eight weeks, and the last one eight weeks after the second dose. MOHHS officials reminded the families that the vaccines are not considered fully effective until two weeks after the final dose in the two or three shot systems.
The event wrapped up with cake, food and refreshments.