8 contact tracers for NMI

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Posted on Jul 24 2020

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The CNMI has a total of eight contract tracers, the front line of response to COVID-19, whose main job is to identify additional individuals who could have been exposed to the person under investigation and to investigate their risk of exposure.

According to Subroto Banerji, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.’s chief operations officer, the contact tracers handle a series of investigations that includes questionnaires, determining risk factors, and risk of exposure.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, contact tracing has evolved to include issues beyond the pandemic and to “utilize COVID-19 resources to create what we’re referring to now as an all-hazards contact investigation team, so the CHCC approach moving forward is not going to be stovepipe. It’s going to be an integrated approach. So this team will evolve and be able to be multidisciplinary,” said Banerji.

Banerji added that the team not only identifies contacts but also interviews and conducts observations on where the PUI live. Paramount to that effort, he said, is building trust. “It’s important to understand that confidentiality is key and not everybody wants to give information readily or right away,” he said. “It takes some time to be able to get information out to avoid stigma, and any concerns that the individual may have by sharing information. So building that trust is another training we give but it’s also something that’s learned.”

Meanwhile, with home quarantine now discontinued unless the person meets the COVID-19 public guidance criteria, the Kanoa Resort in Susupe will remain the default quarantine for all arriving passengers.

To date, the CNMI has a total of 38 COVID-19 cases, with two deaths.

COVID-19 in Guam
According to the Joint Information Center on Guam, the Department of Public Health and Social Services tested 283 individuals for COVID-19 last July 22. Two tested positive and 281 tested negative. Both cases were identified through community screening. One case reported recent travel.

To date, Guam has a total of 332 confirmed cases with five deaths, 244 released from isolation, and 83 active cases. Of those cases, 283 are classified as civilians and 49 are military service members.

Justine Nauta
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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