SAIPAN, (MARIANAS VARIETY) — The islands’ 147th positive case of Covid-19 is a frontliner who was fully vaccinated, Commonwealth Healthcare Corp Esther Muna said in an emergency press briefing conducted online Saturday.
Taking the Covid-19 vaccine does not mean that a person will not contract the virus, she added.
“The whole point of the vaccine is to…protect you and your family members from getting severe illnesses if you do contract Covid-19,” she said.
“Obviously this is an individual that is at-risk in their line of work; [the frontliners] are always at risk, and so it’s just unfortunate that somebody who is always at the frontline happens to be affected by this situation.”
The 147th case is asymptomatic, she added.
The New York Times reported last month that three members of the U.S. Congress were among those who tested positive for the coronavirus even though they had already received one or both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.
It has been reported in people in other walks of life, too, including Rick Pitino, a Hall of Fame basketball coach, and a nurse in California, the report added.
“Experts say cases like these are not surprising and do not indicate that there was something wrong with the vaccines or how they were administered. Here is why.
“Vaccines don’t work instantly. It takes a few weeks for the body to build up immunity after receiving a dose. And the vaccines now in use in the United States, from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, both require a second shot a few weeks after the first to reach full effectiveness.
“Nor do they work retroactively. You can already be infected and not know it when you get the vaccine — even if you recently tested negative. That infection can continue to develop after you get the shot but before its protection fully takes hold, and then show up in a positive test result.
“The vaccines prevent illness, but maybe not infection. Covid vaccines are being authorised based on how well they keep you from getting sick, needing hospitalisation and dying. Scientists don’t know yet how effective the vaccines are at preventing the coronavirus from infecting you to begin with, or at keeping you from passing it on to others. That is why vaccinated people should keep wearing masks and maintaining social distance.
“Even the best vaccines aren’t perfect. The efficacy rates for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are extremely high, but they are not 100%. With the virus still spreading out of control in the United States, some of the millions of recently vaccinated people were bound to get infected in any case.”
In the CNMI, the 147th case was identified Friday through outbound travel testing and was then transported to the alternate care site at Kanoa Resort.
The person has not traveled outside of the CNMI, but has a history of being in contact with those that are “traveling in,” CHCC CEO Muna said.
Ten high-risk contacts were identified through contact tracing and were transported to Kanoa Resort on Friday; they were tested on Saturday, she added.
Of these 10, three tested positive and are also asymptomatic — they have familial relations with the 147th case, Muna said.
Muna said expanded contact tracing found 10 additional high-risk contacts, bringing the count to 20 high-risk contacts for the 147th case.
As of the emergency press briefing on Saturday evening, the results of these additional 10 high-risk contacts were still pending.
Multiple platforms are being utilised to confirm each case, Muna added.
“We all know that the risk exists and it’s one of the reasons why we often remind individuals to continue to wear their masks, wash their hands, and watch their distance. These 3 W’s are in place for prevention, and what we’re doing right now is to try to contain it. We have the tools to contain it and that’s what we’re implementing since we identified the case.”
She said since day one, it has been recommended that people stay home unless they absolutely need to go outside.
As far as “locking down” the island is concerned, Muna said after discussions with the CHCC medical team, they do not feel that it is necessary at this time.
“But of course, that’s up to the governor. We are not suggesting that a lockdown is necessary. We have the tools to contain this and we have the testing capability to identify and contain this,” she said.
As for the inbound passengers from the CNMI’s two most recent flights, Muna said they tested negative for Covid-19.
“We’re better equipped now. We’re better prepared,” she added.
Governor Ralph DLG Torres, for his part, said, “I just want to assure the community for everything that we’ve done, we cannot forget the success that we’ve had… I believe in the system. I believe in the task force that has worked so hard, as well as the contact tracers… We are still the safest place in the U.S.”
The governor urges the CNMI community to continue to follow the administration’s Covid-19 directives, and to refrain from disseminating false or incomplete information.
He stressed the importance of waiting for official updated information provided by the administration, the Covid-19 Task Force, CHCC, and media partners, noting that spreading false or incomplete information also has harmful effects.
“To safeguard our community, please wait for proper information from proper authorities,” the governor said.
Covid-19 Task Force Chairman Warren Villagomez said there is no discussion to expand the curfew hours which are currently from 2am to 4 am.
“We have the tools as the CEO says,” he said.
As for “shutting down” the airport, he said border control is under the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“We have no control over inbound flights, especially of U.S carriers. But we have system in place to safeguard the community.”
He is also urging community members not to “start rumors — we have a plan, and we’re implementing it. Please continue to observe the 3Ws.”
CHCC CEO Muna said this Monday, more clarity regarding Covid-19 testing dates, sites and procedures will be provided to community members….. PACNEWS

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