PORT MORESBY, 08 JUNE 2020 (MARIANAS VARIETY) — The Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation and the CNMI Governor’s Covid-19 Task Force on Sunday announced that another individual was confirmed positive for Covid-19.

A returning resident, the patient is an asymptomatic 53-year-old male who was placed on mandatory 14-day quarantine as soon as he arrived on Saipan.  He was a passenger of the 28 May 2020 United Airlines flight.

Through contact tracing of passengers aboard the same flight, he was identified for additional testing, and specimens were confirmed positive at CHCC Laboratory Sunday, CHCC and the task force said in a statement.

They also reported that one other patient has recovered from the virus.

As of 07 June, 2020, the CNMI had recorded a total of 27 cumulative cases, with six active cases, 19 recoveries and two deaths.

In a press briefing on Friday that was aired on KKMP radio, CHCC Chief Executive Officer Esther Muna said they are expecting the number of cases to increase now that community-based testing is in place.

“We are worried about individuals that may not have the symptoms so we want to make sure that we have a way to identify them,” she added, referring to the ongoing community-based testing.

As of 07 June, through the community-based testing initiative, a total of 6,365 specimens had been collected on Saipan, 414 on Tinian, and 462 on Rota.

So far more than 10% of the population have already participated in the initiative, Muna noted.

She said mass testing will continue.

“The key ingredient to opening our borders is our ability to test somebody arriving at the airport. We are identifying those individuals and, as much as possible, preventing the virus from spreading,” she said.

Muna said they are also boosting the capacity of CHCC to take care of patients who contracted Covid-19.

The task force recently received approval from the U.S. Office of Insular Affairs to acquire specialized medical equipment such as an oxygen generator system and UV-C lights.

“These will strengthen our health system,” Muna said, referring to the equipment worth over $400,000. “We are grateful that this funding is available to enhance the capacity of our health system.”

She explained that Covid-19 caused respiratory problems to patients. “An oxygen generator system helps with the ventilators.”

In a statement on Sunday, CHC and the governor’s task force said, “Many interventions are in place to protect the community from the spread of Covid-19 within the CNMI. Recent cases, identified through the arrival screening and quarantine process required for all incoming international passengers, highlight the value of this border containment effort.  Combined with immediate contact tracing, these interventions are key in minimizing the spread of exposure to Covid-19 in the community.”

The task force and CHCC said they “would like to assure the public that even with the additional cases, the CNMI Community Vulnerability Level remains at Yellow because of a greater number of negative results among an increasing number of residents being tested.”

The task force and CHCC “continue to encourage residents to practice social distancing, which means avoiding close contact with people in order to avoid catching the virus yourself and to avoid passing it on to others…. PACNEWS