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CHCC official: ‘We understand the fear of the community’

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COMMONWEALTH Healthcare Corporation officials on Wednesday updated the community about the public health measures CHCC is implementing to address the global Covid-19 outbreak.

Esther Muna

“We understand the fear of the community,” CHCC Chief Executive Officer Esther Muna said. “There are a lot of unknowns out there because of how novel this virus is, and how quickly it has spread throughout [many] countries, but I also want to assure [the community] that there are a lot of knowns which are prevention, protection, and surveillance.”

She stressed the importance of washing one’s hands, refraining from touching one’s face, staying home and consulting a doctor when one is sick, and avoiding unnecessary travel.

Muna said CHCC is also collaborating with federal, regional, and other partners to learn more about the virus, and to share effective prevention approaches.

“I want to remind everyone that while we are hearing of increased case counts in other areas, the CNMI is still a low-risk environment for Covid-19 based on our clinical assessments at CHCC, as well as our active airport surveillance intervention, which was initiated in mid-January.”

Regarding the Saipan Marathon set for March 14, Muna said CHCC has been collaborating with the governor’s office, the governor’s Covid-19 Task Force, the Marianas Visitors Authority, and federal partners to assess the risks.

She said based on published Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, the Saipan Marathon is considered at no identifiable risks.

“CHCC continues to implement CNMI-wide surveillance, prevention, and health messaging,” she added.

The CNMI, she added, is now a pilot for a CDC text-based illness monitoring system or TIM utilized by the CDC for health issue management.

Covid-19 Task Force Chairman Warren Villagomez said this TIM system was launched Tuesday to facilitate symptoms monitoring during an infectious disease outbreak.

He said Saipan Marathon participants will be given SIM cards to be provided by MVA, and will register their information (e.g. name, age, place of residence, etc.).

This will take account of the persons during the marathon, and after their departure from the CNMI as part of a 14-day period of monitoring.

“We are doing everything to reassure the island community that we are a low-risk island,” said Villagomez who is also the director of CHCC’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program.

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