Guam breaks single-day record with 422 new covid cases – omicron fears

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Governor Lou Leon Guerrero presents her covid update message … “Our focus remains on preventing severe illness, preventing increased hospitalisation and saving lives.” Video: Office of the Governor of Guam

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan in Tumon, Guam

Guam has reported its 273rd covid-19 death and 422 new positive cases on Tuesday, breaking its daily record for new infections and shooting up the island’s Covid Area Risk score to 189.3.

Despite the phenomenal increase in new infections, Governor Lou Leon Guerrero said she was not currently inclined to change the status quo.

“Our Public Health interventions and protective measures remain effective and as such, I am not announcing any new restrictions at this time,” the governor said.

“Our focus remains on preventing severe illness, preventing increased hospitalisation and saving lives,” she added.

A 90-year-old man died, who died at the US Naval Hospital on January 5, was Guam’s 273rd covid-related death. He was partially vaccinated and had underlying health conditions. He tested positive on December 27.

There are currently 14 covid-19 admissions within the island’s hospitals. One is receiving ICU level of care and “the remainder are not as severe,” the governor said.

The 422 coronavirus infections were detected in 2304 specimens analysed on January 10. This is the largest single-day result ever recorded on Guam. Of the total number of new positive cases, 126 were identified through contact tracing.

Speculated over omicron variant
Although data is not currently available, public health officials speculated that the omicron variant, described as highly transmissible, is already spreading on the island along with the delta variant.

To date, there have been a total of 21,540 officially reported cases, 273 deaths, 2062 cases in active isolation, and 19,205 not in active isolation.

The unprecedented surge of infections has prompted the Department of Public Health and Social Services to accelerate the testing in Tiyan, which has transitioned to an appointment-based system.

“Scheduling of appointments for Covid-19 testing will allow for more efficient processing and reduce long lines and wait times,” the department said.

Testing has been expanded to six days a week and six hours a day.

“We know that community testing helps us quickly identify new covid cases, so we can isolate the virus. Please get tested,” the governor said.

Guam public health
Although data is not currently available, Guam public health officials have speculated that the omicron variant, described as high transmissible, is already spreading on island along with the delta variant. Image: Pacific Island Times

Booster clinics at 6 schools
“To expand access and availability, we have added vaccination and booster clinics at six schools, in addition to clinics widely available at the University of Guam, Public Health community centers, and private providers.”

She reiterated her advice for residents to “wash your hands, wear your mask and watch your distance”.

Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said last week that despite the astronomic rise in omicron-related covid cases nationwide, there was a possibility that the number would fall just as fast.

Mar-Vic Cagurangan is editor-in-chief of the Pacific Island Times. Republished with permission.

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