Guam to adopt US coronavirus emergency travel restrictions


The temporary travel restrictions announced by the Trump administration as part of the U.S. coronavirus emergency declaration will apply to Guam.

Adelup Press Secretary Krystal Paco confirmed to PNC News that Guam will be adopting the travel restrictions, which prohibit foreign nationals who have traveled to China in the previous 14 days from entering the U.S.

The temporary measure takes effect Feb. 2 at 5 p.m. but excludes the immediate family members of U.S. citizens.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar declared a public health emergency in the United States at a White House press briefing on the coronavirus Friday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also ordered a federal quarantine order for all 195 people who were evacuated from China and have been voluntarily quarantined at a military base in California.

“We are preparing as if this was the next pandemic,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said of the quarantine.

Here on Guam, Sen. Therese Teraje, the Legislature’s health committee chair, said she is convinced that the Department of Public Health and Social Services is working very closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority, the airport and other stakeholders in the community to ensure that Guam’s response is exactly as CDC recommends and that this will be implemented smoothly.

“What remains unclear is who is taking the lead to ensure that travelers are being screened before they are allowed to board a flight to Guam. I still believe that there should be a high-level effort by the Governor and our agencies to seek the cooperation of the federal agencies and the airlines to increase screening prior to boarding any airplane headed towards Guam,” Terlaje said in a statement.

She said this remains necessary because the Customs and Quarantine Agency on Guam is going to do the physical screening of temperature and interviews of suspected exposed travelers, which will not apply to all travelers.

“We were told by a doctor from DPHSS that connecting flights to Guam from China to the U.S. are being rerouted. It’s still my understanding that passengers from China to the CNMI and the Philippines are being allowed transit to Guam. It would help to know they are being screened,” Terlaje said.

She added that local doctors are being invited to briefings at the GMHA every Monday and that their concerns are valid seeing that the island’s healthcare system is already at full capacity.

“They should be involved in the planning given our already strained clinics and hospitals. Again, I believe we should do all in our power and be creative in finding ways to prevent an infected person from landing on Guam and protecting our healthcare professionals and residents from exposure,” the senator said.