CNMI government says no present threat of Covid-19 community spread


CNMI's health and customs officers set up the passenger screening system at the Saipan international airport in this 2020 file photo.

Saipan-- Despite the discovery of a Covid-19 cluster last month, CNMI officials reassured the community that there is no existing threat of community spread at this time.


Officials said although the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. has not been able to pinpoint the exact origin of the March outbreak, the cluster has been contained.


The first case of the cluster was identified on March 12, disrupting the several months of having a flattened curve in the CNMI.


"Since the identification of the first case of the cluster on March 12, 2021, contact investigation yielded 149 unique persons, of whom, 10 were confirmed as Covid-19 cases," a press release from the Office of the CNMI Governor said.

"Of the remaining 139 contacts, based on interviews, 118 were identified to have had sufficient levels and duration of exposure requiring testing for Covid-19. Of these 118, no additional cases were identified," the press release states.


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CNMI officials said the point source of exposure has yet to be validated and that additional interviews with affected patients have not yielded any evidentiary links to plausible Covid-19 exposure sources.


A total of 11 confirmed cases were identified via PCR testing from March 12 to 17.

None of the 11 cases sought any kind of medical care at the Commonwealth Health Center in the previous 90 days, but authorities are looking into other medical facilities. No deaths were recorded in this cluster.


Officials said the weekly community-based testing also examined approximately 1,000 people and has not yielded any positive Covid-19 cases.


The CNMI's total Covid count was 157 since March 28, 2020. At least 29 percent of the commonwealth's population has been fully inoculated.


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Meanwhile, the CNMI Department of Finance notified the public that the anticipated issuance of the third stimulus checks this week has been delayed due to an unusually lengthy approval process of the implementation plan by U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The CNMI is anticipating approximately $85 million to the Commonwealth within three business days. Officials said the Division of Revenue and Taxation is in communication with the Internal Revenue Service under the US Treasury on a daily basis tracking movement of the approval process and expected transfer of funds to the CNMI.

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“As much as we have prepared our systems here to push out the stimulus checks, it is unfortunate that we have no say when there is a delay in the disbursement of funds from the U.S. Treasury in Washington, DC," CNMI Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres said.


“Our team at Finance and Rev & Tax are constantly following up with the IRS every day, and we want to reassure the community that we are ready to push the button once the funds are officially here on island," the governor said.


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"We want to distribute the stimulus checks immediately, so we continue to ask for our community’s patience as we continue to communicate with the US Treasury on the disbursement of funding,” Torres added.