Guam confirmed late Tuesday that three of its newest cases of COVID-19 were caused by what’s referred to as the U.K. variant, which is considered a more highly transmissible form of the virus.
Also, the island saw another COVID-19-related fatality last May 3 at the Guam Regional Medical City, raising Guam’s fatality total to 137.
The Joint Information Center Guam announced yesterday that it was notified on May 3 at approximately 5:37am that a 59-year-old male with underlying health conditions was admitted to GRMC and tested positive on arrival. He was later pronounced dead due to COVID-19.
In a separate announcement, Guam’s Department of Public Health and Social Services said it received last May 3 a set of results from virus samples that were collected in Guam and went through genome sequencing at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CDC reportedly confirmed that three out of four samples tested positive for the B.1.1.7 Variant from the United Kingdom. This variant is considered a more highly transmissible variant of COVID-19. These virus samples came from travelers tested for SARS-CoV-2 at the government of Guam quarantine facility.
According to JIC, the virus samples were collected between January 2021 and April 2021, and a total of 61 SARS-CoV-2 virus samples were submitted to CDC for genome sequencing, which helps scientists detect what genetic information is carried in a particular DNA segment.
Last March 19, DPHSS received the first set of results that confirmed that seven of 26 samples were confirmed for the B.1.429 California COVID-19 variant.
In accordance with DPHSS protocol, the travelers were isolated in the government isolation facility, and all close contacts to these travelers were quarantined at the government quarantine facility for 14 days before being transferred into the community.
JIC assures that the results they got back does not provide any evidence of the other variants of concern in Guam. This includes the P.1 Brazil/Japan, B.1.351 South Africa, and B.1.427, a California variant of concern.
CDC changes COVID-19 risk level for Guam
CDC has raised Guam’s travel risk level from Level 2 to Level 3, which means the risk of COVID-19 in Guam is high.
In a statement, Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said this is a reminder that the island must continue to stay vigilant. “While we have achieved our Path to Half goal, it was prudent that we keep our strict quarantine protocols in place to continue to protect our community against this deadly virus and its variants,” said Leon Guerrero.
This means that Guam has to continue the practice of wearing masks, washing hands and watching their distance, all while getting vaccinated, said Leon Guerrero. Furthermore, she said, their “fight” against COVID-19 is far from over.
Guam Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio said their work continues as they push forward with “Operation Liberate Guam.” Guam’s goal is to vaccinate 80% of all eligible persons by July 21 of this year.
“Our administration, public health, the State Surgeon Cell, Guam National Guard, and all our partners are ready to administer these vaccines, but we need the community to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated. Together, we’re going to emerge from this pandemic a stronger, healthier, more united Guam,” said Tenorio.