First group of ‘7-dayers’ cleared

MIPD CID’s Sgt. Banner Korwan monitors surveillance at the Kwaj Lodge quarantine facility, while Kwajalein Atoll Local Government Police Officer Jason Hanerg looks into “Red Zone” — which is the restricted access area where inbound repatriation groups are quarantined for two weeks before being released for return home. The two officers are pictured inside the Kwaj Lodge lobby that is called the “Green Zone,” which is open access area for those involved in monitoring and supporting the repatriation and quarantine process. Photo: Hilary Hosia.

GIFF JOHNSON

The first repatriation group with people who quarantined for only seven days in Hawaii was released from quarantine at Kwajalein and Majuro Wednesday this week, following multiple negative Covid tests, including a final test conducted Tuesday this week prior to release. There will be one more repatriation group after the one that was released this week and then the government will “pause” the program for a month before resuming.

A total of 59 people were released at Kwajalein and seven were released from the Arrak Quarantine Facility in Majuro Wednesday.

While Group 11 passed all its requirements for release, repatriation Group 12 went into quarantine in Honolulu Monday this week in preparation for their return to RMI. Group 12 has 66 people, the same as Group 11 released this week. Of those 66 people, 59 will go to USAG-KA and seven to Arrak for two weeks of quarantine.

The Ministry of Health and Human Services pointed out that in light of developments with Covid in other countries, the level of risk and the possibility of Covid importation gets higher as the number of infected people increases in places like Hawaii, the US mainland, Guam, Fiji and elsewhere.

Fully vaccinated individuals in Group 12 will do a one-week of quarantine in Honolulu, while those who are not vaccinated or traveling with unvaccinated children, will quarantine for two weeks.

After Group 12, “the RMI repatriation program will pause temporarily for four weeks to allow time for MoHHS to reassess SOPs, conduct simulation exercises if border cases are detected in quarantine and improve overall vaccination rates,” said Acting Health Secretary Mailynn Konelios-Lang. The Acting Secretary also stressed that the 14-day quarantine in RMI “must remain as is” given Covid developments elsewhere.

Group 11 released this week Wednesday is the first RMI group with fully vaccinated people who quarantined for only one week in Honolulu. The one-week individuals, the majority of Group 12, were subject over a three-week period to a Covid antibody test and five Covid tests, all of which returned negative results, according to the Ministry of Health and Human Services.

In other Covid news:
The Ministry of Health and Human Services is aiming to begin vaccinating children 12-17 in the near future following arrival this week of 2,000 doses of the Pfizer brand vaccine that is US Food and Drug Administration-approved for this age group. A “launch ceremony for Majuro is proposed for October 1,” said Konelios-Lang. MOHHS staff have been conducting outreach awareness with local schools in preparation for the launch of the vaccines for the younger age group. This requires parental consent, she said. Majuro will be first to be followed by Ebeye. “Once the ultra-cold chain in Ebeye is installed, then they can start ordering their share,” the Acting Secretary said.

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