CNMI receives first 20,000 COVID-19 kits; government plans to test everyone

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CNMI Governor Ralph DLG. Torres was at the Saipan Airport late Monday night to receive around 20,000 coronavirus test kits — the first batch out of the 60,000 purchased from South Korea.

According to a release from the CNMI Governor’s Office, the rest of the 60,000 test kits will be shipped to the CNMI within the next week.  With the new kits, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation will soon be able to conduct on-island COVID-19 testing based on testing strategy guidelines from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

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“We have been working on getting these test kits here for the last three weeks, and we are glad to have the first 20,000 here on Saipan. We have an additional 40,000 coming in this week to bring our total number to about 60,000 testing kits. CHCC will be working on getting these test kits ready to begin testing by the end of this week or early next week,” said Torres.

In a video posted on Facebook, Torres said the Government plans to test everyone in the Commonwealth. 

Pacific News Center on Twitter

Governor Ralph Torres Announces Coronavirus Test Kits Have Arrived in the CNMI. https://t.co/YN4NyTdF8o https://t.co/PqslCz5zoM

He said achieving 100 percent testing is the goal of his administration as well as the CNMI COVID-19 Task Force and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.

“We are working extremely hard to get everybody tested. Our goal since day one is to test everybody. It’s going to take some time but we are definitely moving in that direction,” Torres said.

Around 53,890 people reside in the CNMI, according to a 2016 household survey by the CNMI Department of Commerce.

Testing implementation plan

The CNMI Governor’s Office said the COVID-19 Task Force coordinated the delivery via direct charter flight from South Korea to Saipan. Along with the test kits, a clinical pathologist from South Korea also arrived on island to perform equipment calibration and to test quality assurance and quality control of the test kits.

“I want to thank our CHCC CEO Esther Muña for her leadership, as well as our Task Force Chairman Warren Villagomez, our Governor’s Authorized Representative Patrick Guerrero, Senate President Victor B. Hocog, Speaker Blas Jonathan T. Attao, and the Legislature leadership for assisting us in getting this done,” the Governor said.

The 20,000 test kits that arrived last night are the DiaPlexQ (PCR) Novel Coronavirus Detection Kit from SolGent in South Korea. SolGent recently shipped 150,000 of these test kits to the United States over the weekend. Approximately 750,000 COVID-19 test kits from South Korea are being delivered to the United States.

The Governor’s Task Force and CHCC are also finalizing a CNMI testing implementation plan based on the HHS strategy. The strategy prioritizes hospitalized patients and healthcare facility workers with symptoms. Second priority are patients in long-term care facilities with symptoms; patients 65 years of age or older with symptoms; patients with underlying conditions with symptoms, and; first responders with symptoms.

Torres noted that the overall prioritization of testing will be determined by CHCC, but particular priority will be given to hospitalized patients, persons under investigation, healthcare workers, man’amko, and frontline first responders.

HERE’S THE FULL PRESS RELEASE FROM THE CNMI GOVERNOR’S OFFICE:

CNMI acquires 60,000 COVID-19 test kits_ receives first 20,000