Saipan--An employee of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation (CHCC), who recently traveled off-island to accompany a patient, tested positive for Covid-19, the CNMI government announced today.
The CHCC employee was recently on official travel as a medical escort for severely and critically ill patients from Saipan to Hawaii, and the U.S. mainland.
The CNMI has low community transmission. The bulk of its cases were travel-related.
The Covid-stricken CHCC employee, who tested positive on Dec. 22, is one of two individuals identified by travel screening and confirmed diagnosis through fifth day testing as per current incoming traveler protocols. This brings the CNMI’s total to 118 confirmed cases since March 28. The individual in this instance is asymptomatic, and the virus may have been incubating at the point of testing on the first day, but not at detectable levels. On the scheduled fifth day testing, the individual tested positive for Covid-19 and was safely transported to the designated isolation area for close monitoring. In addition, persons under investigation who were immediately identified as close contacts were also transported to the designated isolation area for testing and monitoring. So far, tests results have returned negative for Covid-19, but will be tested again before being released. Contact tracing for additional close contacts of the new confirmed case was conducted and is still being investigated. As a healthcare worker en route from escorting several patients, the individual was approved for “Critical Essential Work” status upon entry into the CNMI, and was tested on arrival. Upon receiving a negative test result for COVID-19, the individual was released for self-quarantine under stringent monitoring by the Contact Tracing Team (CTT). The CTT protocols require the regular and consistent monitoring for an individual that has been categorizedas a “Critical Essential Worker”.The method of monitoring includesthe constant and regular physical check-in of the individual at their place of employment and residence. Included in the physical monitoring of the individual the CTT conducts 10 to 20 check-ins via phone including after hours.
These steps are done for all approved critical essential workers, including those not employed by the CHCC. Per the CDC guidance, prompt identification, voluntary isolation or quarantine, and monitoring of a person diagnosed with COVID-19 and their contacts can effectively break the chain of disease transmission and prevent further spread of the virus.
The Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force and the CHCC has implemented a stringent quarantine criterion for travelers. No traveler is exempt from quarantine. All travelers are quarantined for some duration, and the length of duration of quarantine is determined by the applicant’s information, strength of justification, and assessment of the critical nature of work.
If approved for “critical essential work” status and after a negative Covid-19 test result has been received from testing on arrival, one may be approved to self- quarantine at their own lodging with limited movement and barred from attending any form of congregate setting (restaurant, bars, church, meetings, etc.). In addition, they are expected to adhere to the CDC’s 3W guidelines: (wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance from others).
The CNMI has launched its immunization program, starting with people ages 65 years and older and those living with an underlying health condition such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, asthma, heart condition.