The Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services on Wednesday confirmed two possible cases on Guam that are currently being evaluated for suspected COVID-19 infection.
“These individuals do not meet the full criteria for a person under investigation (PUI) as determined by the Hawaii State Laboratories Division,” a press release from Adelup said.
Earlier in the day, the Guam Regional Medical City said the first patient was being tested for COVID-19 and had been placed in isolation at the GRMC after arriving from the Philippines last night, GRMC said Wednesday.
"Samples have been taken from the PUI and sent to Hawaii for testing. The PUI will be transferred to Guam Memorial Hospital who will further isolate the patient until the testing results arrive," GRMC said, as it reassured the community that "as of this time, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at our hospital."
No further details about the patient were available at this time.
“I am limited by (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) to how much info I can give about the patient. However, it has been confirmed the patient arrived from the Philippines,” said GRMC marketing director Cyndi Hanson said.
DPHSS officials said the second case is being monitored in home isolation.
“Out of an abundance of caution, Guam DPHSS has collaborated with the local health care providers to arrange testing for both cases for COVID-19,” the Office of the Governor said.
Earlier this week, the Philippines declared a health emergency after more cases of COVID-19 were confirmed. According to the U.S. State Department, a Level 2 advisory for travel to the Philippines remains in place.
Despite the government’s reassurance that Guam remains coronavirus-free, Dr. Thomas Shieh believes otherwise.
“It’s common sense,” he said, “look at how many passengers already arrived on Guam since this coronavirus outbreak from countries that have them. Even if Guam does not test, perhaps they are afraid to find their first case, regardless, we think it’s already here.”
Shieh said Guam is not ready to handle any outbreak.
Meanwhile, GRMC said it has taken all necessary measures to protect the community and is working directly with the Center for Diseases Control and Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services, the lead agencies in Guam’s COVID-19 response.
"GRMC will continue to abide by the CDC guidelines for care of suspected COVID-19 cases, including isolation of any suspected patient prior to transfer to GMH," the hospital said. "Again, we strongly urge the public not to spread messages that GRMC has a confirmed COVID-19 case."
The hospital said the public will be promptly notified of any development.
"In the meantime, we urge you to continue practicing the best safety methods to protect yourself from contracting COVID-19, which is to wash your hands regularly with soap for a minimum of 20 seconds and avoid touching your face as much as possible, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol, and properly cover your face if you cough or sneeze by doing it into a tissue or the crook of your elbow," GRMC advised.
On Tuesday, the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services received test kits from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The test kits will be used to conduct diagnostic testing of the virus that causes COVID-19. Back in February, CDC began its initial shipment of COVID-19 test kits. Guam was set to receive these test kits, however they were immediately recalled due to inconclusive results,” according to a press release from Adelup.
The department said testing for COVID-19 will be available on Guam once validation of the test kits is completed.
“Validation ensures the quality, reliability, and consistency of analytical results. The validation process is currently underway at GPHL. Once validation is complete, GPHL will make testing immediately available; GPHL anticipates testing to commence before the end of the month.