• By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

Conference on coronavirus postponed due to coronavirus


Abandon all the handshakes and major social interactions. Even the doctors who planned to trade medical expertise have backed out on scientific gatherings, finding it more prudent to protect themselves amid the unabated spread of Covid-19, which is feared to have entered Guam.

“Coronavirus is real and very serious as it impacts all walks of life on our island,” the Guam Medical Association said, announcing its decision to postpone the coronavirus conference originally scheduled for March 15 at Dusit Thani Hotel. The conference has been rescheduled for April 12.

GMA said it has “taken great consideration of the concerns raised by the Guam Board of Medical Examiners on the reality of the coronavirus on our island.”

The first two suspected Covid 19 cases have been cleared, but the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services disclosed Thursday that two more cases are under evaluation. The department, however, emphasized that there are currently no confirmed cases of Covid-19 on Guam.

Dr. Nathaniel Berg, chair of the Board of Medical Examiners, has raised concerns about “putting health care providers unnecessarily in gatherings.” He warned, “If one person in the hotel turns out to be positive, a large group of health care providers will be quarantined.”

GMA president Dr. Thomas Shieh agreed. “Although we must be educated on this pandemic that has captured many countries hostage, Guam is not immune. Dr. Berg’s concern that this virus being on Guam is taken very seriously and that we must protect our doctors and nurses.”

The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared the rapidly spreading Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic that is likely to worsen. “We expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of WHO.

As of Wednesday, 114 countries have reported that 118,000 have contracted Covid-19, which has killed nearly 4,300 people.

“That said, the authorities and specialists must be consistent with their message and it appears that the coronavirus has become more worrisome than first thought over the regular flu,” Shieh said.

He said the GMA will “continue to collaborate with public health and CDC on this war against coronavirus. We also hope to partner with the Guam Visitors Bureau and the Guam Chamber of Commerce to assist our island in crucial times.”

The Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services announced Thursday that the Guam Memorial Hospital’s Skilled Nursing Unit in Barrigada Heights has been designated as the isolation facility for COVID-19.

“Healthcare staff are currently in the process of safely moving patients out of the SNU to homecare, St. Dominic's Senior Care Home, and the Guam Memorial Hospital. The facility is being prepared to receive patients requiring isolation and acute care,” the department said.

DPHSS said it has approved the Guam criteria for testing for COVID-19.

“The Guam DPHSS Health Professional Licensing Office disseminated the physician’s alert today, which defines Guam’s testing criteria and delineates between a PUI and a surveillance case,” DPHSS said. “As testing capacity expanded to the states and territories, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggested that state and territorial health departments develop their own PUI criteria to determine which cases are tested for the virus causing COVID-19. Testing for COVID-19 is now available on Guam.”

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