Tourists stand in line to check in at the Guam airport terminal in this Jan. 4, 2020 file photo.
Photo by Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Taking a cue from the White House's public health emergency declaration over the novel coronavirus outbreak, the government of Guam (GovGuam) has taken steps to follow the procedures outlined by federal public health authorities, according to Adelup.
President Donald Trump today has signed a proclamation suspending the entry of foreign nationals who have traveled in China in the last two weeks
"During Fiscal Year 2019, an average of more than 14,000 people traveled to the United States from China each day, via both direct and indirect flights," reads the president's proclamation. "The United States government is unable to effectively evaluate and monitor all of the travelers continuing to arrive from China. The potential for widespread transmission of the virus by infected individuals seeking to enter the United States threatens the security of our transportation system and infrastructure and the national security. "
U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and family members to U.S. citizens will be allowed entry, but will require a 14 day quarantine. The federal government has not yet issued guidance on how or where the quarantine will take place.
GovGuam is preparing for the possible implementation of quarantine plans should there be local requirements to implement the policy, according to a press release from the governor's office.
“We are in constant communication with federal public health officials and our White House counterparts. We are prepared to execute all official advisories once they are issued, and we will advise the public accordingly,” Guam Gov Lou Leon Guerrero said. “We have planned for these circumstances and we are ready to implement our plan and keep Guam safe."
Although no cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) have been reported in Guam or the Mariana Islands to date, the Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS), along with emergency management stakeholders, is actively preparing for its potential arrival. DPHSS continues to follow guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as it prepares its response, updating any plans or procedures as CDC guidelines change.
The United States has confirmed cases of individuals who have a severe acute respiratory illness caused by coronavirus, which was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.”
As of Jan. 31, Chinese health officials have reported approximately 10,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in China, more than the number of confirmed cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) during its 2003 outbreak. An additional 114 cases have been confirmed across 22 other countries; in several of these cases, the infected individuals had not visited China. More than 200 people have died from the virus, all in China.
“While GovGuam works with our federal partners to prevent and prepare for the introduction of coronavirus, everyone on Guam can take simple actions now to stop the spread of respiratory illnesses like the flu and coronavirus by practicing good hygiene and staying home if you’re ill,” Guam DPHSS Director Linda DeNorcey said.
Bobby Alvarez, CEO and president of the Guam Visitors Bureau, said he is confident with the response plan put together by the lead agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control, Department of Public Health and Social Services, Guam International Airport Authority, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Guam Customs & Quarantine, and airline partners.
"We also are in constant communication with our source markets and have met daily with many of these lead agencies.In line with our mission statement, our concern and priority is the health and safety of our island. Protocols are in place," he said "In addition, GVB’s role is to monitor and share information. Even before visitors come to Guam, they are screened at the airports from our source markets.If flights are indeed suspended, we are also concerned about the livelihood of the over 21,000 men and women and their families, who are the heart of our tourism industry that it may impact and Guam’s economy.”
What to do
*Frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
When you cough, cover your mouth with a tissue, throw the tissue away, and then wash your hands
Cover your mouth with the sleeve of your clothing if you do not have any tissue
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Stay at home if you are sick -- do not go to school or work
Health officials said this is a rapidly evolving situation, and guidance may change.
For Healthcare Professionals
Healthcare providers should immediately notify both infection control personnel at their facility and the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services in the event of a patient under investigation (PUI). Current PUI criteria can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/clinical-criteria.html. Providers can reach DPHSS to report a PUI at (671) 888-WARN.
Stay Up to Date with Reputable Sources
The community is reminded to only share official notices and visit the following links for the most up-to-date information.
Meanwhile, the Department of Defense has issued guidance to personnel aimed at reducing the potential threat of coronavirus.
"I approved a directive apprising our forces about precautions they should take, how to recognize the signs and symptoms of the virus," said Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said in a statement. "The Department of Defense continues to work closely with our interagency partners as we monitor the situation and protect our service members and their families, which is my highest priority."
The Department of State recently adjusted the travel advisory for China to a Level 4, meaning individuals should not travel there.
Additionally, the Department of State has requested that all non-essential U.S. government personnel defer travel to China in light of the novel coronavirus. Commanders of individually affected geographic commands will be issuing specific guidance to their forces.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also adjusted their travel advisory to a Level 3, recommending that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China. This outbreak is of high-risk to travelers and there are no precautions available to protect against the identified increased threat.
DOD officials are closely monitoring the outbreak of the virus, which was first detected in Wuhan City, China, and is closely coordinating with our interagency partners to ensure accurate and timely information is available and all appropriate measures are taken to prevent potential spread.