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Covid test sites prioritizing those showing possible Covid symptoms

By Alex Rhowuniong

Jerlyn Soram of Yigo is very sick at home. She is showing the symptoms of Covid-19, but she won’t be able to get down to Tiyan until this week.

At the drive-up testing site om Monday, only people showing possible Covid symptoms will be tested. But if you show up without the symptoms and an appointment, be ready to wait or be turned away, Janela Carrera public information officer for Public Health and Social Services said at Friday’s press briefing.

"If you are there without symptoms, just please note we are prioritizing (those with symptoms)," said Carrera. "We are highly encouraging residents to schedule their appointments."

The Department of Public Health and Social Service has expanded the testing to six days a week, and six hours too to accommodate more patients at three sites: Tiyan test site, northern and southern clinics.

Public health officials believe the omicron variant is already on Guam, but not it is not showing up in the tests yet.

"I do think we have seen omicron," Pubic Health and Social Services chief medical officer Dr. Robert Leon Guerrero said, adding they need not be fooled with what they think they are seeing.

Omicron variant may seem to be milder than the delta variant, officials said. But it is the strand that’s racked up hospitalization in the states. Leon Guerrero added that it’s not proven conclusively that it’s here yet.

Territorial epidemiologist Dr. Ann Pobutsky said it might take a couple more weeks before the department determines for sure if omicron is in fact already spreading on island.

Pobutsky said the agency is still awaiting results of genome sequencing of specimens collected on Guam.

She also the department has stopped using the Covid area risk score after it was found to be inaccurate. She said the calculations do not take into account many variables including hospitalization and death.

Data shows the 18 to 39-year-old group leading spike on Guam after the holidays going into early parts of January. Teenagers followed right behind, with 40 and 59-year-olds bringing up the rear, data shows.

The latest spike saw the "increase in islandwide hospitalized cases (20) with Covid-19, but not with ICU (eight) or death," data shows.

A large portion of that January surge came from the Department of Defense although they make up 10 percent of the population.

Soram is hopeful she will get to be tested. But first, she must ensure she has a ride down Tiyan. Her husband Spen Yens said he will make sure Soram get down.

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