COVID-19 Task Force to do contact tracing

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Posted on Mar 18 2020
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CNMI’s COVID-19 Task Force has obtained the list of passengers of United Airlines flight UA189, which carried two of the three positive COVID-19 cases that Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero announced during an emergency press conference Sunday evening.

The goal is to track if any passengers on that flight are now in the CNMI.

Guam’s announcement of the three positive novel coronavirus cases Sunday, two of whom flew in from the Philippines morning of Feb. 29 via that flight, signaled alarm and panic all across the CNMI over the weekend.

“We have obtained the list and we are going to be able to make sure that we do that tracking,” Commonwealth Health Care Corp. chief executive officer and COVID-19 Task Force member Esther L. Muña said in an interview.

While there are three in Guam, there are currently no cases in the CNMI.

According to Muña, the task force is working on mitigating and ensuring that the local population is not exposed to the virus.

“We are going to try, as much as possible, to protect everyone, and ensure that [everyone has] access to quarantine, and to ensure that we can contain this problem, and it doesn’t get any worse than it is now.”

“We are in a situation where it is still scary. However, there’s the risk of what to do. There’s certain steps that we got to take, we got to do contact tracing. We’ve got to figure out who has traveled, and try to avoid the problem to get any worse,” Muña added.

The task force also remains in communication with Guam so that specimens CHCC would be sending remains a priority, given Guam’s need to address their specimens too.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres has also contacted the Guam Gov. Lou A. Leon Guerrero, and attested that working with Guam has been easy as they understand CNMI’s priorities.

“At this point, I think there’s only a handful of specimens that has been sent. We’re hoping that that number maintains a low number. Unfortunately, we have to expect to have a greater number of samples,” Torres cautioned.

“Since Jan. 1, we’ve been moving forward in the anticipation of having someone on island. We’ve been low risk, but we’ve been treating this virus as high risk.”

Last Monday, to further strengthen efforts to protect the health and safety of children, senior citizens, businesses, residents, and visitors on the islands, Torres signed Executive Order 20-04 placing the CNMI under the State of Public Health Emergency, and under the continuing State of Significant Emergency.

Iva Maurin | Author
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at iva_maurin@saipantribune.com
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