Two more test positive

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Posted on Jul 31 2020

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Two returning residents who recently flew in from Guam were confirmed positive for COVID-19 on their scheduled fifth day of testing yesterday, which brings the CNMI’s total number of cases to 42.

Both CNMI residents were identified through the travel screening process and got their confirmed diagnosis during their scheduled fifth day of testing, as provided under the CNMI arrival protocol.

Both individuals are in quarantine and were moved to the designated isolation area at Kanoa Resort where they will be closely monitored by the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., according to a Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force and CHCC statement yesterday.

It said that CHCC has already conducted the initial contact tracing for the two patients’ most immediate contacts, which include passengers on the same flight, close family members, friends, and associates.

According to the task force statement, interventions are in place to protect the community, but since there have been a spike in cases in the last few weeks, it raises concerns in the community if preventive measures are working.

“With our level just under Blue—the safest one—more restrictions are being lifted but that should not take away the current existing precautions to prevent the spread and to keep us mindful that this still can affect our islands,” said Tiava To’omata in As Lito. She applauds those who are enforcing these precautionary measures to keep community safe, especially those who are deemed at-risk such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

Sam Santos of Kagman said the preventive measures that the CNMI government has implemented “from the get-go [have] been great even prior to the first case of coronavirus here on Saipan.” There have been some hiccups along the way that should be addressed, he said, but since the number of cases have remained low, it only “goes to show how good of a job the task force and CHCC have been doing in order to protect the islands.”

As for quarantine procedures, both To’omata and Santos agree that the decision to stop home quarantine unless an individual meets the criteria was a good call. However, Santos said that maybe it’s time the task force and CHCC reconsider some decisions they have made which includes curfew, restrictions, etc.

“In the beginning, I believe this was one of the successes of the COVID-19 Task Force prior to the major lifting of restrictions,” said Santos. “I was actually quite surprised they resorted into home quarantine protocol and I personally do not think this is a great idea. This exposes the community to greater risks when individuals are non-compliant.”

“With more incoming flights to our islands from ‘hot spot’ places of COVID-19 and the majority of our newer cases being inbound passengers, our quarantine restrictions should be one of our main priorities,” said To’omata. She added that passengers who aren’t being monitored have the liberty to break the rules by disregarding the rules of home quarantine.

“Finally, please be transparent with us. Our community deserves more than just knowing that the number of cases has increased. We want real, current numbers, we want to know the facts. Please, please give it to us. Let’s move toward regaining a sense of normalcy in the way we live our lives, but doing so with vigilance and caution,” said Santos.

To date, the CNMI has had a total of 42 cases, with two deaths.

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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