Returning resident tests positive

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Posted on Jul 06 2020

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A returning resident that just came from the U.S. mainland who arrived last June 27 tested positive for COVID-19 last July 3, bringing the CNMI’s total cases to 31. This could mean that there will be more changes to testing protocols for inbound passengers.

In a radio interview with Esther Muña, chief executive officer of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., she said the returning resident was tested last July 2, five days after arriving on Saipan (which is the current standard procedure), and was confirmed positive on the night of that date.

This was the first positive case since the last positive case that was confirmed last June 9, Muña added.

She said the individual is asymptomatic, responded to the SaraAlert that he did not have symptoms, and had no symptoms when he was assessed on the night of June 2. Additionally, the individual was quarantined at home.

‘We knew this person traveled from a hotspot in the U.S. and traveled to Guam and then to the CNMI. As soon as we identified [that] the result came back positive, our contact tracers were automatically activated,’ she said.

The person’s close contacts—those who were exposed to the individual—were brought to the hospital so that CHCC›s medical staff can make an assessment and try to contain any infection, Muña said.

As the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States and Guam continue to accelerate, Muña staid that there will be changes to the testing procedures for arriving passengers. This includes being tested twice—once upon arrival and another on the fifth day when any symptoms start to show.

«We could test you on arrival but there›s always a risk. And the risk is that the virus may not show, especially if they recently just got exposed and so the purpose of waiting after five days allows the viruses to be visible upon testing on the PCR,» said Muña. A PCR is a polymerase chain reaction, considered the gold standard in COVID-19 testing.

It used to be that all arriving passengers—who were mostly returning resident—were immediately placed in a government-sanctioned quarantine site. The new system now allows incoming passengers to do home quarantine. The new protocols became effective last July 4.

Protocols for nonresidents will remain the same. This includes: arriving with a PCR test, taking another PCR test at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport, filling out a CNMI declaration form at least three days prior to landing in the CNMI, registering under SaraAlert, and be self-quarantined.

The CNMI now has a total of 31 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with two deaths and one active case.

The following is the community-based testing schedule for Tinian:

-District 1 on July 7, Tuesday:
–Mariana at 8:30am-11:30am;
–Hofscheneider’s Hardware at 1pm-4pm.
–Marpo Heights on July 8, Wednesday: Ace Hardware at 8:30am-11am
–Broadway, 42nd St. corner at 1pm-4pm

-Carolinas Heights on July 9, Thursday:
–Bus Stop No. 4 at 8:3am-11am
–Carolinas Heights Water Tank at 1pm-4pm

Individuals must have the following when going to test sites: face covering/face mask, valid identification, and bottled water to stay hydrated. Appointments are not necessary, registration will be on-site.

COVID-19 in Guam

According to the Joint Information Center on Guam, the Department of Public Health and Social Services tested 306 individuals for COVID-19 last July 3. Two tested positive and 304 tested negative. Additionally, results include samples from COVID-19 community testing at the Yigo Gym on July 2.

To date, Guam has a total of 288 confirmed cases, with five deaths, 179 released from isolation, and 104 active cases. According to JIC, of those cases, 242 are classified as civilians and 46 are military service members.

Justine Nauta
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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