With increasing concerns about the novel coronavirus entering and spreading in the CNMI, Sen. Paul A. Manglona (Ind-Rota) asked Gov. Ralph DLG Torres yesterday that a temporary travel restriction to and from China be put in place.
“I am respectfully requesting that we have travel restrictions in place to temporarily halt travel to and from China for a few weeks or until such time that this virus is studied and under control,” the senator stated.
Manglona sent Torres his letter just before Torres issued his executive order yesterday that declared a state of emergency for the CNMI and barred the entry of travelers from China to the CNMI.
In his letter to Torres, Manglona said he is particularly expressed concerned about reports that carriers may show no symptoms for up to two weeks, and that the person, within that incubation period, is contagious and may spread the virus.
“Unlike the SARS outbreak in 2002-2003, which infected people showed symptoms of runny nose, fever, and cough, it is difficult to detect infected individuals with this new strain of coronavirus as they may not show symptoms immediately,” he said.
Manglona further said that. unlike in 2002 to 2003, during the SARS outbreak, the CNMI has become easily accessible for tourists from China, and that he is concerned of the potential threat and harm people on the islands will suffer in the event the virus reaches the islands.
“Due to the uncertainty about the virus, its fast-spreading nature, the lack of a vaccine, and the growing evidence that asymptomatic people may carry the virus, it is absolutely imperative that we protect our people from a possible outbreak in our islands.
“It is essential that we closely work with the Centers of Disease Control to ensure that our Commonwealth is included in their recently reported plan to boost staff at 20 U.S. airports that have quarantine facilities. We should have the same capability as these 20 mainland airports to screen all passengers traveling from China,” the senator added.
CDC is still studying the virus, and recently increased its travel warning to Level 3 alert, recommending people to avoid all nonessential travel to China. The United States has expanded its screenings for coronavirus at airports and borders as the death toll in China reaches 132, with the number of confirmed cases ballooning to almost 6,000.