DPHSS begins local surveillance amid emergence of deltacron variant in UK
Updated: Mar 20, 2022
Guam‘s Covid-19 transmissions significantly lower
By Aurora Kohn
The new Covid-19 variant called "deltacron" that was detected in some western countries is currently not a threat to Guam's health care system but public health officials are on alert.
Deltacron is a hybrid version of the coronavirus that combines genes from the delta and omicron variants. Currently, there is an absence of any data on the new variant relating to Guam.
“At this point, we don’t have an answer for what’s causing an uptick in the UK, and whether it’s going to cause a problem in the U.S. So we don’t have enough information to say, yes, this is a new threat," said Dr. Robert Leon Guerrero, interim medical director.
Public health officials also said the government will continue to monitor and conduct surveillance to ensure that Guam is able to detect new variants and anticipate and prevent new surges.
Among others, these include wastewater surveillance, genomic testing and continued vigilance among the members of the medical community to report any new or unusual sets of symptoms that they might encounter among their patients
Dr. Anne Pobutsky, territorial epidemiologist, also confirmed that there is an ongoing door-to-door survey being conducted by the government which started on March 14.
Guam’s seven-day rolling average of new Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations and ICU cases continued to decline significantly in the last week, according to the Department of Public Health and Social Services.
The seven-day rolling average of new Covid-19 cases decreased to less than 100 cases per day as of March 14 from 250 cases at the end of February.
Testing was under 1,000 tests/day with the positivity rate at just under 20 percent.
Covid-19 cases declined across all age groups with the numbers showing a tendency for convergence. There was also a continued lowering of the hospitalization rate and cases in the ICU.
“This is a good sign. It’s becoming more uniform across age groups. Nothing like the peaks we were seeing before," Pobutsky said.
As of March 14, there were 1,803 cases in active isolation, with 27 in the hospital and 1,617 isolating at home. To date, there have been a total of 46,411 cases with 338 deaths. There are 1803 cases in active isolation and 44,270 cases not in isolation.
Despite the lower numbers, Guam remained in the high-risk category based on CDC’s newest community risk indicators. DPHSS officials expressed optimism that Guam will be out of the high-risk category by next week, absent any “upticks in the infection rates."
DPHSS said an ”unusual” figure referred to the total number of Covid-19-related “DOA” or dead on arrival. Of the total number of Covid-related deaths recorded during the last two years, 32 percent were DOA cases.
Pubotsky said this was not seen on Guam before. She hoped to provide more information about the reasons for this phenomenon in the second-year pandemic summary report that will be ready before the end of this month.
“It was really a phenomenon of the delta and then the omicron surges. And we’re taking a closer look at this as we do our summary report," she said. "The most at risk for death are the elderly and elderly people tend to have more chronic conditions. So we’re taking a closer look and we have been continually apprising people of the need to get treatment if you are sick or you are old or if you have a chronic condition.”
Dr. Annette David, senior epidemiologist for the state epidemiological outcome working group, said, “ Right now, the recommendation is that if you have any sort of disease that impairs the immune system like cancer, you are actually a candidate for the fourth dose of the vaccine. Pfizer and Biotech have recently applied for emergency use authorization for a fourth dose of the vaccine for people 65 years and older.”
DPHSS officials also said the socio-economic status of the patient may be a factor for the high incidence of DOA cases where patients delay seeking treatment or ignore their symptoms because they have no medical insurance.
Leon Guerrero said the government has created a homebound program to address the health needs of persons who have no medical insurance.
He added that this program will continue to assist persons without medical insurance even after the pandemic is over.
David said Guam will continue to see Covid-19 cases in the community even in an endemic but the number of cases will be below an “acceptable level.”
Acceptable levels are associated with case numbers showing lower rates of transmission. High transmission rates put stress on the available health facilities.
If the transmission numbers indicate that risk levels are sufficiently low, the government may decide to lift certain health mandates.