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CHCC, task force to hire new laboratory scientists

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THE Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. and the Governor’s Covid-19 Task Force will hire replacements for the six South Korean laboratory scientists who have been assisting the CNMI government in its community-based testing initiative for the last 90 days.

Lee Tenorio, CHCC public information officer, said the Koreans will be returning to their country on Thursday, Aug. 20, before their 90-day visas expire.

Task force chairman Warren Villagomez said they are now seeking the guidance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to expedite the process of recruiting new laboratory scientists from South Korea.

Meantime, CHCC Chief Executive Officer Esther Muna said hospital laboratory staff will process the tests.

She said they had to stop the community-based testing for a while because of the large volume of specimens collected from inbound travelers and during community-based testing.

“For last Monday’s flight alone, there were more than 90 passengers, and that’s a lot,” Muna said.

The process to obtain the test result takes four to six hours, she added.

Muna said the CHCC laboratory staff can process the tests for inbound passengers, but they also have a hospital to run.

“We do have a population to take care of. We have to balance our resources to ensure that we address the illnesses of our people as well as conduct surveillance,”  she said.

Through the community-based testing initiative, Muna said, CHCC and the task force were able to identify 10 individuals positive for Covid-19 and 16 more positive cases through contact tracing.

But the biggest concern, she added, are the inbound flights through which they had identified 28 positive cases so far, Muna said.

 

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