NMI has 2 confirmed Covid-19 cases

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THE governor’s Covid-19 Task Force and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. on Saturday evening announced two confirmed Covid-19 cases in the CNMI.

“The results of the two specimens sent to the Guam public health lab have been confirmed positive for Covid-19,” CHCC Chief Executive Officer Esther Muna said during a press conference in the CHCC conference room on Saturday evening.

Dr. John Tudela said the patients are a 42-year-old male and a 49-year-old female, and they have been quarantined at Kanoa Resort since March 26.

He said one of them traveled from Guam on March 12 while the other traveled to Tinian on March 13 and returned to Saipan on March 14.

Both began showing symptoms on or around March 17 and sought care at CHCC on March 25 and 26.

After both cases were determined to meet the CDC person under investigation criteria, specimens were obtained on March 27 and sent to the Guam Public Health Laboratory.

The governor’s task force said it has already initiated contact tracing for the most immediate contacts, which include close family members, friends, and members of a faith-based organization. “We are monitoring their health closely while in quarantine. Both of these cases are linked to travel into Saipan.”

Dr. Tudela said they are also monitoring the patients’ health and are checking them on a daily basis.

“At this point, we don’t have any reason to have them hospitalized. We check on them whenever they have any questions or any issues and we ensure that they are stable and that they don’t need any additional health intervention,” Tudela said.

The patients are in isolation while the other individuals will remain under quarantine at Kanoa Resort.

“This will [help] prevent [the] spread [of the virus]. We have protocols that ensure that the patients who are sick do not have contact with those who are not sick.”

Covid-19 Task Force chairman Warren Villagomez advised all residents to be responsible in practicing good hand hygiene, social distancing, and in protecting the most vulnerable population, including the manamko’ and patients with chronic medical conditions.

In his remarks, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said the government will continue to implement directives to help stop the spread of Covid-19 in the CNMI. “All we ask is for you to cooperate. Stay home. Stop social gatherings, and that includes the beaches, parks, and walkways.”

He said effective March 29, Sunday, “our stores and retail establishments will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Stores will be mandated to implement strict social distancing as a condition for operating under these new hours.”

Previously, the stores could be open from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. only.

Torres said, “Citations and enforcement are forthcoming for any establishment [that] does not observe social distancing of at least six feet.”

Asked about the possible lockdown of the island, the governor said: “We are almost there…the enforcement is forthcoming.”

Public gatherings, he added, are “not going to happen again.”

He said since January 29, the administration has been holding stakeholder meetings to ensure emergency preparedness in the CNMI.

In addition to active airport surveillance, he said the central government has enforced mandatory quarantine procedures and is screening travelers including residents returning to the CNMI.

In response to the pandemic, the governor said his administration has formed a task force that includes responders from the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, the Department of Public Safety, the Commonwealth Ports Authority and the Division of Customs, and has enlisted the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs to provide services at the quarantine facility.

The central government has likewise closed public and private schools, and notified the federal government about the two confirmed Covid-19 cases.

“We have done everything we could to be proactive, so we are again asking our business partners and other community members to implement social distancing…. Please take this seriously. Stay home and stop social gatherings,” the governor said.

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