New Covid surge on Guam causing anxiety among residents
By Alex Rhowuniong
Isaiah Yatilman, 29, of Mangilao, is keenly aware and wary of the omicron, the newest and more robust variant of Covid-19.
Yatilman is worried his children might drag it home from school. "The kids are vaccinated already," Yatilman said. "We are all vaccinated in our family. But I still worry."
Guam is seeing yet another spike in Covid-19 cases. The Department of Public Health and Social Services on Thursday reported 263 new Covid cases out of 1,647 tests from Wednesday.
In the past three days, Guam has seen a total of 662 new cases, showing an accelerated transmission of the virus.
A mother who lives in Dededo on Tuesday took a trip to Tiyan test site along with her two teenaged sons.
"I thought I was developing symptoms. I was sneezing. Seeing the new increase in cases makes me worried," said the 42-year-old Dededo resident, who asked to be identified only as Lena D.
"Thank God, we all tested negative but we waited long to get our results. So we didn't leave the house for seven hours, while waiting," she added.
Many speculate that omicron variant has entered Guam, but currently, public health officials couldn't confirm.
“No evidence of omicron is here, yet," Dr. Ann Pobutsky, territorial epidemiologist, said,
Dr. Robert Leon Guerrero, acting Public Health chief medical officer, said the last batch of samples tested in a Hawaii state lab identified 10 delta variants.
Another concern raissed by Leon Guerrero was the treatment of omicron, if it has indeed reached Guam.
He said there were evidence that omicron does not respond well to monoclonal antibody treatments. "Delta, on the other hand, responded very strongly," Leon Guerrero said.
But officials speculated that the spike could be just related to holiday gatherings. They are hoping the surge will die down.
However, officials said this does not mean people should relax.
“People who are vaccinated are less likely to get the virus than the unvaccinated,” said Leon Guerrero.
Pobutsky said every day the count is going up, and now they are averaging 200 cases.
Yatilman, originally from Yap, worked with the mentally and physically challenged. He said he was worried about them even though their activities were mostly done virtually. "It's them and my family I worry about," he said.
From his own research, this omicron variant he said has too many unknown variables.
Omicron was first identified in Boswana, South Africa; and numerous countries including a majority of the U.S. where it's increasing, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"The rapid growth rate in omicron infection is believed to result from a combination of increased transmissibility and the ability to evade immunity conferred by past infections or vaccinations," CDC website states. "We don't yet know how easily it spread, the severity of illness it causes, or how well available vaccines and medication work against it."