9 Mar 2020

Palau welcomes negative test result for suspected coronavirus case

4:58 pm on 9 March 2020

Palau's President Tommy Remengesau Jr has welcomed negative test results for the country's first suspected case of Covid-19.

A sample from a woman, 73, from the US was sent to Taiwan for testing last week.

A technician prepares patient samples for the clarification of the coronavirus.

A technician prepares patient samples for the clarification of the coronavirus. Photo: AFP

The test came back negative and Mr Remengesau said he was relieved, thanking Taiwan's government for its work in conducting the test and their ongoing assistance.

The president said the case work demonstrated the importance of preparing and having systems in place.

With no current cases of the coronavirus, Mr Remengesau also urged people to avoid spreading misleading information, especially online.

"Our greatest enemy is not the virus itself, but the fear we create by perpetuating rumors and falsehoods," he said.

"This is a time for our community and nation to show its resilience - to demonstrate the strength of our community ties, to support each other, and to be aware and proactive in practicing personal hygiene."

Meanwhile, Tonga's Prime Minister Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa has revealed a patient earlier admitted to Vaiola Hospital showing signs of the virus had tested negative for the disease.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Health received the test results from an Australian laboratory regarding a 21-year-old woman.

The results have now been sent to New Zealand for additional verification.

A sample of a second suspected case of coronavirus in the Northern Marianas has also returned a negative result.

CNMI sent the sample to Hawaii last week after a patient showed symptoms however they were ultimately diagnosed with a different upper respiratory illness.

Last month officials sent a separate sample of its first suspected case to a laboratory in Atlanta, which also returned a negative results.

Economic decline forces price freeze in CNMI

The Northern Marianas has also ordered a price freeze on food and other items to help residents cope with the ongoing economic downturn due to the outbreak.

The government said people had lost their jobs or were enduring hour shifts as the tourism industry was being hard-hit by a decrease in visitors.

Governor Ralph Torres said the health and safety of his people included protecting their ability to provide for their families.

Other basic items under the price freeze include clothing, flashlights, generators, tools, stoves, ice boxes and bedding.

Mr Torres also urged the banks to consider a three-month grace period for all loans, mortgages, promissory notes and other monetary obligations owed by residents on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.

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