By Pacific Island Times News Staff
'Don't ditch your masks just yet,' officials say as Guam prepares for normalcy
Updated: Jul 19, 2021
WHO warns against early stages of Covid third wave amid Delta variant surge
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero is anticipated to lift more coronavirus-related restrictions this week, but local officials advise the community to remain vigilant in the wake of the World Health Organization's warning of the Delta strain surge that is triggering the third wave of infections.
Local health authorities earlier disclosed that one case of delta variant has been detected on Guam. It involved an individual with no travel history.
"At this time, there is no evidence of community spread of the delta variant here on Guam," Communications Director Krystal Paco-San Agustin said. "Our medical advisors continue to monitor the situation both regionally and globally."
Numbers indicate that Guam is on track to achieve the 80 percent vaccination rate by July 2 — the threshold at which the community returns to normalcy.
Paco-San Agustin said as of July 15, a total of 93,404 individuals, or 77.81 percent of Guam's adult population, are fully vaccinated. "That means, we need 2,627 more people to get fully vaccinated--which we anticipate with those requiring their second dose," she added.
In line with the goals set by Operation Liberate Guam, Paco-San Agustin said the easing of restrictions will include the lifting of the cap on social gatherings and occupancy limits.
"Governor Leon Guerrero, however, will require that masks continue to be worn and that residents get vaccinated. Discussion is ongoing on whether to transition from PCOR3 to PCOR4," she added.
Meanwhile, WHO warned last week that the Delta variant’s spread, along with increased social mobility and the inconsistent use of proven public health measures, is driving an increase in both case numbers and deaths worldwide.
"Guam's travel protocol policy was last updated on July 2. Should our situation change (increase in CAR score, increase in hospitalizations or deaths), then Gov. Leon Guerrero will act accordingly and reinstate stricter policies for those entering Guam," Paco-San Agustin said.
Covid-19 infections on Guam have been quite low in the past weeks.
However, WHO said the second week of July marked the fourth consecutive week of rising cases of Covid-19 globally, with increases recorded in all but one of WHO’s six regions. Deaths are also rising again, after 10 weeks of steady decline.
“Unfortunately, we are now in the early stages of a third wave," said
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director.
Tedros, the virus is continuing to evolve, resulting in more transmissible variants. "The Delta variant is now in more than 111 countries and we expect it to soon be the dominant Covid-19 strain circulating worldwide, if it isn’t already,” he said.
The spread of the Delta variant – one of the main drivers of the current increase in transmission – is also being fuelled by increased social mobility and the inconsistent use of proven public health and social measures.
Tedros drew the committee’s attention to the ongoing “shocking disparity” in the global distribution of vaccines, as well as unequal access to life-saving tools.
He reiterated his concern that inequity has created a two-track pandemic – namely, one track for countries with the greatest access to vaccines, who are lifting restrictions and reopening their societies, and a second track for those without vaccine access who are left “at the mercy of the virus.”
Many countries still have not received any vaccines, and most have not received enough.
Tedros reiterated WHO’s appeal for a massive push to vaccinate at least 10 percent of the population of every country by September, at least 40 percent by the end of 2021, and at least 70 percent by mid-2022.
Emphasizing that vaccines alone will not stop the pandemic, he called upon countries to persist with a “tailored and consistent approach.”
That means using the full array of available public health and social measures and taking a comprehensive risk management approach to mass gatherings.
“So many countries around the world have shown that this virus can be stopped and contained with these measures,” he said.