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CHCC: CDC health advisory on NMI is incorrect

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THE Centers for Disease Control and Prevention health advisory stating that the Covid-19 risk in the CNMI is “high” is incorrect, Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. Chief Executive Officer Esther Muna said.

She added that she has reached out to CDC to justify how it came up with the travel health advisory.

“All Pacific islands, even those with no confirmed cases, were placed on the same category of high risk,” Muna said.

These are Guam,  American Samoa, Palau, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia: Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap.

As of Sunday, Guam had 412 cases, the CNMI had 48, while the other islands had none. 

The Guam Daily Post has reported that the island’s governor, Lou Leon Guerrero, has asked CDC how it determined that Guam is a high-risk travel destination when it has a positivity rate of less than 2% compared to the national average of 8%.

Leon Guerrero’s letter, addressed to CDC director, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, also reminded him that Guam is a U.S. territory.

“At the very least, the CDC should understand that Guam is American soil and that approximately 4 million U.S. citizens live in Guam and its sister territories,” the governor added.

“Though others can be forgiven for not understanding the complex history of the United States and its unincorporated territories, the CDC should know that we do not have a foreign ministry of health or a foreign designee at the U.S. State Department. Guam’s sons and daughters carry this nation’s flag into battle and too often lay under that flag in eternal rest — that sacrifice will not be ignored.”

Overall, Guam saw a rate of 1.6% positive results out of 23,480 Covid-19 tests since March.

The U.S., however, has a much higher positive rate at 8.7%, according to CDC's data.

1 traveler positive of Covid-19

On Saipan, one individual was confirmed positive for Covid-19 through travel screening on arrival Saturday. This brings the CNMI total cumulative cases to 48 since March 28, 2020.

Of these confirmed cases, 24 or 50% have been identified through port of entry screening procedures, CHCC stated.

Of the 24 confirmed cases identified through travel screening, 19 originated from the U.S. mainland, three from a foreign country and two from a U.S. territory.

The individual is safely in quarantine and was moved to the designated isolation area for close monitoring, the Office of the Governor stated in a media release. “CHCC has already initiated contact tracing for the most immediate contacts (passengers on the same flight, close family members, friends, and associates) of the newly confirmed case.”

In an interview, Muna said the CNMI Covid-19-related safety measures and protocols are being shared with other U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands or USAPI.

“A lot of USAPIs do not have Covid-19 cases, but our practices here are lessons learned in case [the pandemic] comes their way,” Muna said.

She said they have weekly calls with CDC and the health department staff in the other USAPI.

“Every case is unique and we discuss our cases with the CDC people,” she added.

In the CNMI, newly arrived travelers are enrolled in the Sara Alert System and undergo two Covid-19 tests — one upon arrival at the Saipan airport and the second on the fifth day after their arrival. Travelers must undergo quarantine until the result of their fifth day test comes back negative.

“If we stop this, we are putting ourselves at risk for more cases and that is why it is critical that we maintain this model or one that is better,” Muna said.

She noted that with the surge of Covid-19 cases in the U.S. mainland, the CNMI must be prepared for a possible “second wave.”

As of Saturday in the U.S., it had over 5 million confirmed cases and 162,000 deaths.

 

 

 

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