Questions raised on why COVID-positive GMH doctors traveled to virus-stricken India

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Guam Memorial Hospital
Guam Memorial Hospital (PNC file photo)

Questions have been raised on why the two COVID-positive Guam Memorial Hospital doctors traveled to India in the first place when that country was already seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The U.S. has just restricted travel from India and at the time the two doctors traveled there, there was already a travel advisory warning against travel to India issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But according to Chima Mbakwem, the acting DPHSS chief public health officer, the CDC travel advisory is just an advisory where the risk is stated and when people decide to go against that, the consequences will be on the individual.

“Governments don’t have control over that. What we have control over is who comes into the island, and we’ll be able to work with the airport, and other partners to ensure that anybody who is coming to the island is either tested or placed under quarantine,” Mbakwem said.

He added that CDC actually has a recommendation right now that if you’re traveling from any international destination to the US, you are required to have a 72-hour test prior to travel. The reason for this is that CDC wants to make sure that anybody going into the United States does not have an active infection.

“So if they tested before their flight home and they were negative, then they actually followed the rules, and then on arriving in Guam, the full Public Health-established restriction of movement was followed as well as infection control protocols in the workplace,” Mbakwem said.

He stressed that DPHSS is continuing to conduct contact tracing in the case of the COVID-positive doctors and suspected contacts have already been screened, including those with prolonged contacts with the doctors.

“We’re still watching and following up. We’re monitoring for any symptoms. For now, we don’t have any reason to panic. But at the same time, we still insist that people should continue to follow the recommendations that are in line with reducing the spread of COVID on the island,” Mbakwem said.

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