RMI eases dengue travel ban

RMI Acting Chief Secretary Kino Kabua, left, and top health officials met with senators Monday and Tuesday this week to brief them on the dengue situation and outer islands travel restrictions. Photo: Hilary Hosia.

The government-imposed outer islands travel ban is being ended in stages.
Arno, Mili, Namu and Lib have had their travel bans lifted, and Ailinlaplap will be next.
These developments are happening in line with the Ministry of Health training health assistants on these islands to diagnose and treat dengue in case it develops.
The RMI remains in a State of Health Emergency due to the dengue outbreak that has affected the country since Cabinet issued a proclamation on 6 August 2019.

Over 1,500 confirmed and suspected cases of dengue have been recorded in RMI. Majuro Atoll has had over 1,200 cases and continues to battle the outbreak, Ebeye had 272 cases but has not seen a dengue case for the past five weeks. If an area stays dengue-free for six weeks, the outbreak is considered over.
There have also been smaller outbreaks on Utrok and Aur atolls, but in both of these atolls there have been no recent cases of dengue. The Ministry reported 16 cases of dengue at Majuro hospital on Monday this week, showing the problem has not gone away.

Following consultations Monday between the Cabinet and the Ministry of Health and Human Services, the following plan has been agreed for the eventual return of our citizens living in the outer islands:
• The first atolls and islands that have had their travel restrictions lifted are Arno, Mili, Namu and Lib due to their close proximity to the Majuro and Ebeye hospitals. The travel restrictions for Aur and Utrok have also been lifted at the same time because dengue cases have already been confirmed on those atolls.

• Health Assistants stationed in these atolls and islands have been trained, are being trained or are in the process of being scheduled for training to deal with the dengue illness by MOHHS.
• Ailinglaplap is the latest atoll to have its travel restrictions lifted by Cabinet as MOHHS has dispatched a doctor and two nurse practitioners to Ailinglaplap to stay there while the health assistants of Ailinglaplap are in town this week for a seven-day training on how to detect and handle dengue cases. Included in the training this week are also health assistants from Ebon, Namdrik, Jaluit (Jabor), Wotje, Mejit, Likiep, Kili, and Maloelap (Ollet). The schedule for the next round of health assistants training for the remaining atolls and islands will be released within a week from MOHHS.
• Once all of the remaining outer island health assistants have been trained and their respective atolls/islands provisioned with sufficient medical supplies, the travel restrictions for the remaining outer islands will also be lifted.

The relaxing of the travel restrictions now allows people to travel between Majuro/Ebeye and the approved outer atolls/islands without the 10-day quarantine. However, there are still protocols in place requiring the following to mitigate dengue risks:
• Vessels will be fumigated before boarding passengers
• Mosquito repellents will be provided to people returning to the outer islands
• Passengers must be symptom-free prior to departure
• All children and adults must have been immunized against measles and the flu.

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