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  • By Lori Lyn Lirio

Saipan records first death related to Covid-19

Saipan-- 70-year-old man quarantined at Kanoa Resort died on Monday, the governor’s Covid-19 Task Force said in a media conference.

The man, who had “multiple underlying medical conditions,” went to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. on March 25, and was considered a person under investigation.

He and his wife were then brought to Kanoa Resort, one of the designated quarantine sites on island.

Specimen was collected from the patient and sent to Guam, but the result was not yet available as of Monday afternoon.

“He had multiple underlying medical conditions. A treatment plan was offered, but his next of kin opted for comfort care at the hotel, which was adequately provided,” CHCC Chief Executive Officer Esther Muna said.

A CNMI resident, the man had no prior travel history, but had contact with one of the two Covid-19 cases on island.

Muna said CHCC initiated “contact tracing” for the man’s most immediate contacts as soon he walked into the hospital.

“For most people,” she added, “the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. The vast majority of those infected recover. But for the elderly and people with existing conditions, the virus can cause severe illness.”

As of Monday, there were two confirmed Covid-19 cases in the CNMI.. The two patients are doing “well” in isolation, CHCC said.

Muna said CHCC has sent a total of 20 specimens for Covid-19 testing to Guam and 11 were still pending.

“The Guam Public Health Laboratory has assured us that they are going to make our test results a priority,” Muna said.

“Now, more than ever, we need to embrace preventive methods such as social distancing, which is not a cultural norm. But we can’t stress enough how it is very important for everyone in our community to stay at home and leave only for quick trips to the grocery store or to pick up food,” Muna said.

Dr. Elizabeth Kohnen, CHCC-Family Care Clinic medical director, said people with underlying health problems such as renal failure, diabetes, hypertension or heart disease are also at risk of Covid-19. “We all need to be careful for ourselves so we don’t carry it to those people as well. Even if we are healthy, it is our responsibility to take care of

our neighbors.”

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios and their families expressed their condolences to the grieving family members.

“We must have courage and continue to play our part to fight the virus,” the governor said. “Since Saturday, we’ve been executing our CNMI pandemic plan forward to protect the CNMI from the spread of Covid-19.”

Quarantine area

There are now 117 individuals under quarantine at Kanoa Resort. This number includes the 33 passengers who arrived from Guam on Sunday,

Dr. Kohnen said medical care is available at the site. “Anyone who does not need [to be in the hospital] will be in the quarantine area. People who may have a cold or other things are being monitored. It is not a hospital, but anyone who needs to be in the hospital would be brought to the hospital,” she added.

Effective immediately, the governor said curfew will be enforced for everyone and not just minors.

Starting on Monday, no one is allowed to leave their home after 7 p.m. and before 6 a.m.

“Starting Tuesday, violators will be cited according to law,” the governor said.

Those who are exempted from curfew are law enforcement officers, first responders, and private sector employees on duty during curfew hours.

The governor said all dialysis patients are also exempted. “Regardless of what time you come in or what time you leave the clinic, you are exempted, including the health providers and family members that will be taking care of you,” he added.

As for boat ramps and docks, the Garapan Fishing Base boat ramp will be open but for small boats only.

Small boats will be allowed to operate, but within the lagoon only.

“Due to the escalation of the Covid-19 situation, the CNMI government redirected its resources to assist with Covid-19 response and operation,” the governor said. “As a result, boating safety operation and response will be limited only within the lagoon. We do not have access or the capacity to respond to any emergency or distress calls beyond the lagoon.” (Marianas Variety)

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