Coronavirus yet to infiltrate CNMI

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Quashing rumors that the CNMI now has a suspected novel coronavirus case, the Commonwealth Health Care Corp. has assured that that is not true and that there is still no such case as of yesterday.

According to CHCC spokesperson Zoe Travis, as of 4pm yesterday, there were no suspected or confirmed cases of novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV in the CNMI.

The rumor mill has been circulating a report yesterday that a Chinese tourist had been brought to the Commonwealth Health Center on suspicion of being infected with the novel coronavirus, but the hospital flatly denied this when asked.

Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued restrictions on flights carrying passengers from mainland China to the United States, following a proclamation by President Donald J. Trump.

The restrictions also apply to the CNMI, according to a Commonwealth Ports Authority press release on Feb.3.

The restrictions would direct U.S. citizens who traveled to China within 14 days of their arrival in the U.S. to one of three airports with advanced public health screening capabilities. They will also be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine, either in a health facility or in home quarantine, depending on where they traveled in China.

Foreign nationals, other than immediate family of U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and flight crew, who have traveled in China within 14 days of their arrival, will be denied entry into the United States.

CHCC continues to urge the community to be vigilant. There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV, and the best way to protect against this and other illnesses is to take protective health and hygiene measures.

Preventative measures include washing one’s hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; avoid close contact with people who are sick; stay home when sick; cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash; and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

CHCC said that the surveillance unit of its Public Health and Hospital Emergency Preparedness Program continues to work with Customs and Border Patrol, CPA, the Marianas Visitors Authority, and other agencies in screening incoming passengers from outbreak areas. Protocols have been established around transportation, isolation, and care of a suspected case of 2019-nCoV, should such a case present in the CNMI.

Over the last few weeks, 2019-nCoV cases have begun to appear globally in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the U.S. mainland. There have been 425 deaths, with the vast majority occurring in Wuhan and other parts of mainland China. One death has been recorded in the Philippines and another in Hong Kong.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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