Guam Public Health to meet with stakeholders on coronavirus

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(PNC file photo)

The Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), is closely monitoring an outbreak of a 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China last month.

With more than a thousand infections with 2019-nCoV in China, including outside the Hubei Province, as well as reported infections in a growing number of international locations, including the United States, more cases are likely to be identified in the coming days, DPHSS warned.

As reported by CDC, it is unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading to people but DPHSS said it is evident that person-to-person spread is occurring.

On Jan. 23, CDC raised its travel alert for the coronavirus outbreak. But while CDC considers this a very serious public health threat, based on current information, the Department of Public Health and Social Services said the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV to the general American public is considered low at this time.

Nevertheless, DPHSS, along with all local and federal partners, are taking proactive preparedness precautions.

DPHSS continues to closely monitor the situation and is working with CDC on information-sharing. Health alerts have been issued to all healthcare providers to increase awareness of detection. Moreover, specimen shipping protocols to the CDC have been established to maximize the speed that test results are returned on any suspected cases.

DPHSS is holding a multi-agency coordination meeting this week with local and federal stakeholders to discuss the ongoing surveillance of the 2019-nCoV and the emergency response plans that are in place locally.

In attendance will be officials from the Office of the Governor, DPHSS, Guam Homeland Security/Office of Civil Defense (GHS/OCD), Customs and Quarantine Agency (CQA), Guam International Airport Authority (GIAA), Guam Memorial Hospital Authority (GMHA), Guam Regional Medical City (GRMC), Guam Visitors Bureau (GVB), Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association (GHRA), and the Guam Fire Department (GFD).

“The situation is rapidly evolving and can change with each day,” stated Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero in a release. “As information develops and with guidance from the CDC, we will continue to make assessments as they relate to the safety of the community, to include the tourism industry. While CDC and other partners prepare around the world, our community can also take preventative action.”

What Can the Community Do?

Although there are no reported suspected or confirmed infections with 2019-nCoV on Guam, the community is advised to practice the same efforts that would prevent influenza or any other respiratory illness:

● Wash your hands often with soap and water
● Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose with unwashed hands
● Avoid close contact with people who are sick
● Practice proper cough etiquette – cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
● Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects or surfaces
● Stay home from school or work when you are sick
● Get your flu shot – although it will not protect from 2019-nCoV, it will protect from another common respiratory illness

Stay Up to Date with Reputable Sources

It is important to note that the situation can change daily. The community is reminded to only share official notices and visit the following links for the most up-to-date information:

CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/
WHO: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

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