‘Dimmer dial’ change eyed for quarantine process

Posted on Mar 08 2021

With 200 days of zero community transmission, just 145 positive cases since then, and more than 20% of the adult population already vaccinated, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. is looking into changing its quarantine protocols, as per the criteria provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the CHCC chief executive officer, Esther Muña, CHCC and the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force are making what she describes as a “dimmer dial” change to the current protocol, this time allowing self-quarantine for a total of five days. That option will be available to those who are fully vaccinated and who don’t live in a crowded household.

Muña emphasized that this option is not automatic and the incoming traveler must go through a process of review before actually being approved for self-quarantine protocol.

The individual will have to complete the mandatory declaration form if the CNMI resident has completed the vaccination series in the CNMI in the last three months and had recently traveled and is traveling back on island from another jurisdiction. For individuals who meet this criteria, self-quarantine could be an option, if approved.

Muña said that CHCC will be working with the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force to finalize the procedures, which include ensuring that there will be a surveillance process so inbound travelers will be able to do self-quarantine. However, the same rules for testing—once on arrival and another after five days—will still apply for those on self-quarantine.

“We’re still finalizing the details, but this process is only giving the individual the option to sleep in their own bed and that’s all. Upon arrival, we’re looking at having separate transportation for those who [opted] to self-quarantine where they wait at a holding area to be tested and to have an assessment of their quarantine location. This process must be done before a decision on whether an individual will be able to do self-quarantine is given,” Muña said.

She said this change is a “dimmer dial” versus a “light switch” change to the current protocols and is expected to go into effect within the next week or two.

Additionally, CHCC will be making sure those changes go into the health declaration forms. “Everything needs to be in place first, such as updating the declaration forms and testing them and [orienting] all the agencies that will be involved,” said Muña.

In related news, CHCC announced that one more individual has been confirmed positive for COVID-19 last March 7, bringing the CNM’s total to 145. The individual was identified by travel screening and confirmed positive through testing upon arrival.

CHCC says the individual has been safely in quarantine and was moved to the designated isolation area for close monitoring. CHCC has already initiated contact tracing for the most immediate contacts, including passengers on the same flight.

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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