Guam health officials called yet another news conference Wednesday to reassure the public that there are no confirmed or suspected cases of the disease on Guam and they are making every effort to keep it that way.
The phones are ringing at the American Medical Clinic and other health providers on island with concerned residents asking about the signs and symptoms of the coronavirus, many asking if they can be tested for exposure to the disease.
American Medical Clinic director Dr. Hoa V. Nguyen says he and his staff are doing their best to reassure everyone.
“Everyone that comes in has a cough and cold and we ask them their history of travel. And if they don’t have any off-island travel anywhere, we just reassure them. But they do ask a lot of questions about the virus,” the doctor said.
He added: “We reassure them that public health and everyone else in GovGuam are doing their best to follow federal regulations to try to keep the high-risk personnel out of Guam. So we just reassure them.”
It was on Tuesday evening that a man walked into the American Medical Center asking for an examination and complaining of a cough. Dr. Hoa Nguyen examined him but declined to discuss any details about his case.
However, the patient was referred to the Department of Public Health and Social Services. Dr. Ann Pobutsky, public health epidemiologist said: “This patient sought treatment at a private medical clinic and we received a call from that clinic because there are established protocols to report to the Department of Public Health.”
He added: “We received very little information about this patient because we weren’t able to contact over the phone. But we finally were able to contact this patient and the patient was asked to get a prompt medical evaluation.”
Medical Director Dr. Janna Manglona said: “The patient was fully evaluated by a Guam provider. And the provider even consulted with the CDC to be in the safe side and he was cleared and he was not a person of interest, not a person under investigation.”
In addition, the patient had not recently traveled off-island and met none of the conditions for possible exposure to the virus.
“There are currently no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus on Guam. We are continuing to see a lot of influenza and colds but it’s flu season and we normally see that at this time of year,” Dr. Pobutsky said.
Read the release from Public Health in FULL below:
Joint News Release
February 5, 2020
DPHSS Addresses Recent Headlines on Rumors of Coronavirus on Guam As of 11 a.m. on February 5, 2020, there remain no confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV on Guam.
Local news outlets have recently reported that a patient on Guam may require isolation due to potential infection with 2019-nCoV.
The patient sought treatment at a private clinic, which then notified Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS) using the protocols established for reporting infections of public health significance. At that time, DPHSS received very limited information about the patient over the phone. The patient was contacted and asked to get a prompt medical evaluation.
The patient has been evaluated by a Guam provider with a full history and a complete exam performed. The Guam provider consulted with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC), which determined that this patient does not meet the specific criteria for a Patient Under Investigation (PUI). This means the patient is low-risk for having coronavirus and
does not require testing for 2019-nCoV; other possible causes of illness are being explored.
DPHSS is aware of additional rumors circulating on social media and chat groups regarding the identified patient and reminds the public that rumors and misinformation can spread faster than the virus itself, and can be just as dangerous.
We understand that people are worried, we must ensure we are providing clear, timely, evidence-based information to respond to their concerns.
The community is reminded to only share official notices and refrain from sharing unofficial messages. Providers must also be reminded of the importance in maintaining Health Insurance
Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines when sharing any patient information.
As a reminder, this is a rapidly evolving situation, and guidance may change. Visit the following link for the most up-to-date information: https://www.cdc.gov.
For more information, contact DPHSS Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., at (671) 735-7143.