By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Guam today recorded 210 new coronavirus cases— the highest one-day total since the trough in early December — indicating an accelerated speed of new transmissions that spark fears of a new wave of infections triggered by the omicron variant.
The Department of Public Health and Social Services said the new cases were detected from 1,393 tests run on Jan. 3. Forty-five cases were identified through contact tracing. The department logged 11 hospital admissions — nine at Guam Memorial Hospital, one at Guam Regional Medical City and one at US Naval Hospital.
"We had six Covid patients last night at last census check. There were six admissions overnight. However, there were three Covid-patient discharges as well, leaving us at nine Covid patients currently," said Mai Habib, communications director for GMH.
"Overall, GMH emergency room is seeing a high patient census," she added.
To date, there have been a total of 19,899 officially reported cases, 273 deaths, 620 cases in active isolation, and 19,006 not in active isolation. The CAR Score is 22.2.
The American Medical Center has been experiencing a surge of patients as new Covid-19 infections began escalating on Guam after the holidays.
Dr. Vincent Akimoto, a family doctor at AMC, said the clinic was diverting Covid-suspect patients to Guam Memorial Hospital and Guam Regional Medical City.
He said most patients were showing symptoms that included fever, body aches, cough, dyspnea and extreme fatigue.
"We are seeing many (Department of Education) staff calling in sick. I would assume that DOE routinely has more than 20 percent of its staff call in sick every Monday but especially this Monday," Akimoto said.
Education Superintendent said his office was gathering input from schools this week. "We are still assessing first-day issues but this hasn’t come up," he said.
In the past week, Guam began seeing a spike in Covid-19 infections, after more than a month of recording single-digit results.
"So far, no admissions for me although I have one lady who is trying to have her third heart attack in clinic now," Akimoto said on Monday.
The threat of yet another wave of infections is attributed to the omicron variant, which remains a mystery to scientists.
Officials earlier said DPHSS has already sent its latest batch of samples to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for genome sequencing to determine if the omicron virus has hit the island.
"This thing hits quickly and then seems to linger. We in the medical private sector have limited information to know guidance from Guam Public Health regarding recent Covid surge," Akimoto said.
"Presumably, businesses cannot continue as usual if hospitals get overwhelmed.
Question to GovGuam health leadership is what is our current hospital capacity and what do we need to do when that capacity is exceeded. People's lives are soon going to be dependent on how we best manage our hospital resources," he added.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now considering including the negative test as part of its five-day isolation restrictions.
"There has been some concern about why we don't ask people at that five-day period to get tested," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's chief doctor told the national media. "Looking at it again, there may be an option in that, that testing could be a part of that, and I think we're going to be hearing more about that in the next day or so from the CDC."
Fauci said the U.S. has been seeing almost a "vertical increase" of new cases, now averaging 400,000 cases a day, with hospitalizations also up.