The California coronavirus strain, which has been categorized by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a "variant of concern," has been detected on Guam, officials disclosed Monday.
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said the California variant was found in seven of the 26 samples that were returned to Guam out of 49 sent to CDC.
"The California variant is known to have 20 percent more transmissibility," the governor said.
Of the seven samples with the California variant, four were found in individuals who had no travel history, while three were found in a quarantine facility, the governor said.
“It is important to note that these samples were from positive cases in January which means even with the California variant in our community, our Covid-19 response has remained robust,” the governor said.
“We will continue to stay the course. Today marks Day 29 in PCOR3 and most all businesses have been operational with moderate restrictions,” she added.
She noted that Guam had only one hospitalization today and the Covid Area Risk score remained low at 0.1.
“We must continue to do what we know works: wearing a mask, washing our hands, and watching our distance,” she said.
“Paired with regular community testing and our aggressive vaccination efforts, we are well on our way toward achieving herd immunity through Operation Liberate Guam or 80 percent of our population fully vaccinated
Dr. Felix Cabrera said the two other variants, detected in South African, Brazil and U.K., were not detected so far.
He assured the community that the three Covid-19 vaccines being administered on Guam -- Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen-- are 100 percent effective in preventing the diseases.
However, Dr, Mike Cruz said there is no information at the moment as to how long the vaccines' effectiveness will last.
The governor said Guam is on track to meet the Path to Half initiative, which targets to immunize 50 percent of Guam's adult population prior to reopening tourism on May 1.
"To date, we have 30,735 people who have been fully vaccinated," she said.
She said the government of Guam agencies would be allowed to take administrative leave so they could get their vaccination. She encouraged the private sector to follow suit in order to expedite Guam's vaccination target.