The CNMI marked a grim milestone last Friday with one more added to its total of persons who’ve been confirmed positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, boosting the CNMI’s total to 50.
Also, it was announced late Thursday that mass testing in the CNMI will have its last day tomorrow, Aug. 18, 2020, until further notice.
These developments come soon after Guam is placed again under lockdown for the next two weeks.
Due to an increase in the number of new positive cases in Guam, Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero reinstated the Pandemic Condition of Readiness Level 1, or PCOR 1, in Guam—the highest level of restrictions in a four-step alert level. It will cover two weeks, from Aug. 16, 2020, until Aug. 29, 2020.
To date, there have been a total of 516 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Guam, with five deaths, 345 released from isolation, and 166 active cases. Leon Guerrero and Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio themselves have been confirmed positive for COVID-19.
As opposed to many of the newest cases, the CNMI’s latest case was identified through a mandatory pre-operation screening for a scheduled surgery at the Commonwealth Health Center and was not identified through the Community-Based Testing initiative nor travel screening.
This comes nearly two months since the CNMI saw its first community transmission last June 3. Contact tracing for the most immediate contacts of the new confirmed case has already been initiated. The individual has been moved to the designated isolation area for close monitoring.
This case brings the CNMI to a total of 10 community screening transmissions.
Of the total 50 confirmed cases, 25 cases have been identified through port-of-entry screening procedures, 15 from known contacts, and now 10 through community screening, added the statement.
Of the 25 cases identified through port-of-entry, 20 cases originated from the U.S. mainland, two from a U.S. territory, and three from a foreign country.
After tomorrow, community-based testing will be suspended until further notice.
According to the explanation provided by an Office of the Governor statement, the Solgent team from South Korea that is helping CHCC with the testing will be returning home on Aug. 20, 2020, and will no longer be assisting in running the laboratory specimens for CBT. The team has been helping the CNMI with mass tests in the last 90 days.
Since April 28, 2020, the CNMI Community-Based Testing Initiative has tested 12,681 people for COVID-19 on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. This is approximately 24% of the CNMI’s population.
Based on CHCC’s count, a total of 12,681 persons were tested in the CNMI. In Guam, the total number of persons tested is now at 27,239.
Esther Muña, CHCC chief executive officer, says that investigation is still ongoing as to where the latest case of community transmission in the CNMI started.
Rumor is rife that CHC personnel that ran the test wrongfully misread the individual’s test and it was only after the surgery that the patient was confirmed positive. The rumor also states that the doctors and staff involved in the surgery are now in quarantine and that CHCC is investigating.
Muña confirmed that the individual underwent surgery but, when asked about rumors that the individual’s test had been misread, she said that she can’t release anything yet until the investigation is done.
“We have every intent to release what happened but [we can’t] when investigations are ongoing. When we have all the details of what happened, we will release,” she said.