CNMI confirms first two COVID-19 cases

Dr. John Tudela at the press conference Saturday night (Screenshot from the CNMI Governor's press con)

The CNMI Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation informed the public tonight that the results of two specimens sent to the Guam Public Health Lab have been confirmed positive for COVID-19.

During a press conference, CHCC’s Dr. John Tudela provided more information about the CNMI’s first two confirmed cases:

Loading the player...

“The confirmed positive cases involve a 42-year-old male and a 49-year-old female. They are presently quarantined at Kanoa resort since they were presented to CHCC on March 26.”

“As a result, CHCC has already initiated contact tracing for the most immediate contacts which include family members, friends, and members of a faith-based organization,” he added.

Tudela said CHCC is monitoring the two patients’ health closely.

One individual traveled to Guam on March 12 and another individual traveled to Tinian on March 13 and returned to Saipan on March 14. Both cases started showing symptoms on or around March 17 and sought care at CHCC on March 25 and 26, according to Tudela. 

Both of the cases meet the CDC person under investigation (PUI) criteria so specimens were obtained on March 27. The specimens were submitted to the Guam Public Health laboratory which positively confirmed the samples for COVID-19. 

COVID-19 Task Force measures

Warren Villagomez, the head of the CNMI COVID-19 task force said, “Now that we have two confirmed positive COVID-19 cases, we are strongly advising all residents to be responsible in practicing good hand hygiene, social distancing and protect our most vulnerable population, including our manåmko’ and patients with chronic medical conditions.” 

Meanwhile, Governor Ralph DLG Torres emphasized the importance of social distancing and also announced the strict enforcement of new hours for stores and retail establishments, “Citations and enforcements are forthcoming for any establishment that does not fulfill social distancing (6 ft.),” Torres said.

Starting Sunday, March 29, grocery stores and retail establishments in the CNMI will be allowed to operate from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.