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  • By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

Guam senators, doctors ask governor: Shut the gate

Guam International Airport

Guam’s health care system is not prepared to handle any massive Covid-19 outbreak on island, Guam Medical Association president Dr. Thomas Shieh said Thursday, reiterating his call for the governor to put the island on a two-week lockdown on the heels of two more residents having been confirmed positive for coronavirus.

“Worst-case scenario, people will die,” Shieh said.

Guam senators backed up the doctor’s plea, asking Gov. Lourdes Leon Guerrero to “implore the Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and United States Department of Homeland Security directly to prohibit all inbound flights as we stop the spread of Covid-19, and recover as a community.”

Guam now has five Covid-19 cases, and the number is anticipated to climb as the government beefs up its efforts to trace individuals who may have been in contact with the infected patients or had the same travel itinerary.

"The preliminary investigation indicates that one of the recently confirmed cases has a familial connection to two prior confirmed cases announced on March 15, 2020. Today’s second unrelated case had recent travel history to the Philippines,” the Joint Information Center said in a release Wednesday.

The Federated States of Micronesia has reported three persons under investigation, one in Pohnpei and two in Yap, whose samples are currently being tested on Guam.

Based on experts’ estimates, the number of actual infections in a given location is typically seven to 10 times more than the cases detected.

“We plea with you to do the right thing: lock down the island immediately,” Shieh said in an open letter to the governor posted on his Facebook page.

The Guam airport, Shieh said, must be closed on all flights for the next two weeks to stop additional entry of more viruses. “Your decision will determine the fate of thousands of lives, we must take these steps to ensure Guam and the people are protected,” Shieh said, addressing the governor.

Shieh said placing the entire Guam in a self-quarantine will make it easier to control the spread of the virus and allow the health care community to “come up with a better pandemic plan.”

“Many counties have done it and now some of the states have already implemented their lockdown,” Shieh wrote. “Only essential health care personnel and safety team are to be out. You can call out the Guam National Guard to maintain order.”

In a letter the governor, members of the 35th Guam Legislature is seeking a quick response.

"As we are learning from the slow responses of certain countries and their detrimental consequences, and the successes in containment from other jurisdictions- we believe a complete shelter-in-place order of our island is necessary to stop the spread of this pandemic,' they wrote.

They also noted the community's concerns over the lack of test kits and supplies available for residents.

“We owe it to our children, our manamko', and all our people of Guam to do all that is in our power to do. Governor, we ask for your help to continue protecting our people,” the senators wrote.


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