CHCC: No confirmed Covid-19 case in NMI

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AS of Thursday, there was no confirmed Covid-19 case in the CNMI, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. said.

However, it added, the hospital submitted a specimen for Covid-19 testing to a laboratory in Hawaii.

“This does not mean that the CNMI has a confirmed case,” CHCC stated. “CHCC will provide further updates on this situation as they become available.”

This is the second time that CHCC sent out a specimen to a laboratory for Covid-19 testing.

The first specimen came back negative, CHCC public relations and communications specialist Zoe Travis said. CHCC sent the specimen on Feb. 10 and received the result 11 days later.

CHCC said the second patient does not meet the full CDC case definition of a Covid-19 person under investigation, and is considered a suspect of low priority.

“CHCC is taking a precautionary stance in order to protect the CNMI community,” CHCC said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus spreads mainly from person-to-person, from close contact with one another within six feet; or via respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes — these droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

It may be possible that a person can get Covid-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

To protect oneself, CHCC advises the public to practice the following:

1) Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol-based sanitizer is a good alternative if soap and water are not available.

2) Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

3) Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

4) Stay home when you are sick.

5) Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

6) Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

CHCC said its Public Health and Hospital Emergency Preparedness Program surveillance unit is working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Commonwealth Ports Authority, the Marianas Visitors Authority, and other agencies in conducting screening of incoming passengers from outbreak areas.

Protocols have been established around transportation, isolation, and care of a suspected case of Covid-19, should such a case present in the CNMI, CHCC said.

For more information, contact the CHCC Public Health and Hospital Emergency Preparedness Program surveillance unit at 234-8950.

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