3 test positive in Guam

CHCC sends third specimen for testing
Posted on Mar 16 2020


Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero

The coronavirus contagion has now reached Guam, with Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero announcing in an emergency press conference late yesterday that three suspected cases of COVID-19 on the territory have tested positive for the virus.

This comes as the Commonwealth Health Care Corp. has submitted a third specimen to the Guam Public Health Laboratory for COVID-19 testing last Friday. The result of that test has yet to be made public.

Leon Guerrero said that two of the positive COVID-19 patients came from the Philippines via a United Airlines flight from Manila last March 2. The third individual has no travel history. All three are confined at the Guam Memorial Hospital.

Earlier, Leon Guerrero and Federated States of Micronesia President David W. Panuelo declared state of emergency declarations in their respective jurisdictions in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a CHCC statement on Friday, a Commonwealth Health Center clinician requested last March 13 that a patient be tested for coronavirus infection since the individual met the surveillance case definition for the disease. The statement was quick to point out, though, that the patient does not meet the COVID-19 “person under investigation” criteria and does not meet the CDC case definition of a COVID-19 PUI.

The CHCC statement clarified that this does not mean that the CNMI has a confirmed case, and will have more information once it comes available. The patient is considered a suspect of low-priority and CHCC is taking precautionary measures.

So far, the coronavirus virus has infected more than 150,000 people worldwide and killed over 5,600.

In an interview with CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muña, she stated that when a patient goes into self-quarantine they will be receiving a SIM card, under the Text Illness Monitoring system that was launched last March 10. This will be a way to monitor the patient for a 14-day period.

The first time CHCC submitted a specimen for testing to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratory in Atlanta, Georgia was last Feb. 11 and the patient was also a low-priority patient, meaning that the patient didn’t meet the full CDC criteria of a person who has the virus. Last Feb. 21, CHCC received confirmation from the CDC that the sample was negative.

The second time CHCC submitted a specimen for testing to a laboratory in Hawaii was last March 5, and the patient was also a low-priority patient and did not meet the full CDC criteria of a person who has the virus. The next day, March 6, CHCC received confirmation from Hawaii that it has been confirmed negative for COVID-19.

Until then, CHCC reminds everyone that the best way to protect oneself and others from the virus and other illnesses is to practice good basic health and hygiene such as:

Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoiding close contact with people who are sick, stay home when you are sick.

Covering your cough/sneeze with a tissue and properly disposing of it.

Cleaning and disinfecting touched objects and surfaces frequently.

Guam Regional Medical City also announced an important change to its visitor policy in response to the COVID-19 situation. This new policy will go into effect today, March 16, 2020. Effective on that date, visitors will be limited to one per patient. The new visitation policy will apply to in-patients and out-patients during visiting hours, which are from 9am to 9pm daily. The new visitation policy will include pre-op patients and the Intensive Care Unit, who will be limited to one visitor per patient. ICU visiting hours are from 9am to 9:15pm for the first 15 minutes of every hour.

The new visitation policy will also affect patients in the Emergency Room, who will be limited to one visitor per patient.

In addition, on Monday, March 16, GRMC will begin health screening for all visitors. Visitors will be screened for temperature and any recent travel.

This new visitation policy will be in effect until further notice and is subject to change to meet the safety and security needs of patients, visitors and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Justine Nauta | Correspondent
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.

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