HAGATNA, 26 MARCH 2020 (THE GUAM DAILY POST) — Guam has five new confirmed COVID-19 cases based on the latest test results released Wednesday evening.

Officials also confirmed one COVID-19 patient is a nurse at Guam Memorial Hospital.

Guam’s total number of confirmed cases is now 37 since testing began on 12 March. One person has died from respiratory illness.

The number released by the Joint Information Centre on Wednesday night does not include the four Navy sailors who were medically evacuated from the USS Theodore Roosevelt and taken to U.S. Naval Hospital Guam.

The Department of Public Health and Social Services laboratory tested 37 individuals for COVID-19 on Wednesday. Five tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and 32 tested negative.

A total of 270 tests have been performed on Guam.

Officials said with the “number of positive cases of COVID-19 accelerating on our island, consider yourself possibly exposed if you have recently traveled or attended any mass gathering such as a church, fiestas, small parties or other gatherings within the past 14-30 days.”

According to officials, residents who’ve been out, should – over the course of 14 days – stay home, self-quarantine and monitor yourself for symptoms.

“If you feel any of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, contact your doctor or health care clinic,” the JIC press release states.

Some of the symptoms include, but are not limited to, fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms can include diarrhea, abdominal pain, chest pain, headache, chills, and congestion, to name a few.

“Due to a lack of testing supplies until commercial testing becomes available, the DPHSS Guam Public Health Laboratory (GPHL) will not be testing mildly sick people with symptoms,” officials stated.

A nurse at Guam Memorial Hospital is among the confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported on Guam; however, the hospital confirms she didn’t get the virus while at work.

During a press conference held via video at Adelup on Wednesday, GMH Administrator Lilian Perez-Posadas said the nurse was infected after she had face-to-face contact with friends who had recently traveled to Manila, Philippines.

“She is not at work,” said Perez-Posadas.

Of the cases reported, 13 are in their 60s, 21 are in stable condition, and 10 are hospitalized between GMH’s intensive care unit and the COVID-19 isolation facility in Barrigada Heights.

Department of Public Health and Social Services Director Linda Unpingco-DeNorcey said one additional confirmed case had recently traveled to the Philippines. The total number of positive cases who went to the Philippines is now at six, while one had traveled to Japan and one other traveled to the continental U.S.

There are 24 cases who had no recent travel history.

“Initial research has shown one person who is asymptomatic for five days and doesn’t practice social distancing can spread the virus to 2.5 people. The math shows if those people each transmit to another 2.5 people and so on, within 30 days, 244 people will be infected,” said Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero. “The government will do all it can to protect you. Now I am asking you to do everything to protect us all. None of us can do this alone. So again, please stay home.”

The governor has since extended the public health emergency declaration to 13 April.

Leon Guerrero said none of the people who traveled to the Philippines and are being held at the designated quarantine facilities have tested positive for the virus.

The governor requested 1,000 additional test kits during a meeting held with federal partners Wednesday morning.

However, the governor shared concern from GMH that the amount of personal protective equipment, or PPE, is estimated to run out within one week.

Guam Federation of Teachers union representative Robert Koss said they have received complaints from nurses about the short supply.

He said some nurses are treating patients “without a face shield because none are available.”

“Some employees in the community are making do with bush cutter face shields. Most first responders are accepting their very important role without complaint. Lots of labor issues to wrestle with after this blows over,” said Koss. “Until new supplies arrive including PPE, everyone needs to find solutions such as making face masks or repurposing other equipment. Governor confirmed with GFT that she is not holding back on this and money is available for such purchases when and if they can be made. Seems our governor is already on top of it to the extent possible.”

“We do have a shortage of personal protective equipment on the island,” said Chuck Esteves, Office of Civil Defense administrator.

He said vendors told them that shipments are one to three weeks out.

“We’ve implemented measures from the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) on how to maximize our current PPE stock,” he said. “If we do run out of PPE on island, we do have a strategic national stockpile that is managed by DPHSS that we can use in case of crisis or extreme emergencies.”

He said first responders and health care providers have priority for personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves.

Along with requesting for more medical supplies from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Esteves said they’ve been in contact with vendors in China, South Korea and elsewhere to try to secure more equipment and supplies.

“We do ask that anyone with PPE – and we are talking about dental clinics, optometrist and veterinary clinics – that if you do have PPE, please report your numbers to the emergency operations center,” he said…. PACNEWS