Suspension of flights from countries with confirmed coronavirus urged

Senator Telena Nelson (PNC file photo)

Vice Speaker Telena Nelson is calling on the Guam International Airport Authority to suspend all flights from countries which have confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.

In a release to the media the Nelson is quoted as saying “At this point, we know the threat of the coronavirus reaching Guam is real and we must act now to ensure our government is adequately equipped and prepared to deliver the potentially life-saving services our people need.”

Korea, Japan, and Taiwan have all reported confirmed cases of the disease.

Guam’s economy is dependent on visitors from those three countries which provide the bulk of tourists visiting our island.

Nelson says she has also sent letters to the key GovGuam stakeholders asking for information on their preventative measures and response plans in the event that a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus occurs here.

The senator has scheduled an oversight hearing on the issue which is scheduled for next week, Thursday February 6th, at noon.

READ the release from Sen Nelson in FULL below

Nelson Imploring Key GovGuam Agencies to Prepare for Coronavirus
Joint Oversight Hearing Called to Discuss Response, Plans

(Hagåtña, Guam) – Responding to the regional and global outbreak of coronavirus, which continues to spread and threaten public health and safety, Vice Speaker Telena Cruz Nelson has penned letters to key government agencies requesting information on preventative measures and response plans.

“At this point, we know the threat of the coronavirus reaching Guam is real and we must act now to ensure our government is adequately equipped and prepared to deliver the potentially life-saving services our people need to prevent contracting the virus in the event a local case is confirmed,” said Vice Speaker Telena Cruz Nelson.

Nelson sent the letters, all inclusive of Freedom of Information Act requests, to the Guam International Airport Authority (GIAA), Guam Department of Education (GDOE) and Guam Memorial Hospital Authority (GMHA) early Thursday morning. As chairperson of the Committees on Air Transportation and Education, the Vice Speaker has also scheduled a Joint Oversight Hearing for GIAA and GDOE to discuss their preventative measures and response to the threat of coronavirus. The hearing will be held at 12:00 p.m. Feb. 6, 2020, in the Public Hearing Room of the Guam Congress Building in Hagåtña.

Nelson has also requested that GIAA suspend all incoming flights from countries that have confirmed cases of coronavirus, including China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia, and countries suspected of having cases of coronavirus, and see regular flights to Guam, such as the Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong, until a local mitigation plan is in place. She additionally requested, among other items, a list of GDOE’s health and medical inventory, which may be utilized in the event a case of coronavirus is confirmed locally. From GMHA, Nelson requested information on the hospital’s quarantine procedures and capabilities, as well as their ability to respond to the coronavirus. 

“By ensuring our airport, schools and hospital are adequately prepared to respond to the coronavirus, our island lessens the potential risks our people may face and we provide our community a sense of security and safety,” Nelson said.

The recent coronavirus outbreak in China continues to show signs of spreading regionally and globally. As of January 28, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported nearly 5,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and over 100 deaths as a result of contracting the virus. These numbers continue to grow and there remains no proven therapy or antidote available.

The WHO reported 50 international cases of coronavirus across 14 countries, which include a number of Guam’s regional neighbors and top tourism markets, like Japan and South Korea. Additionally, 585 Chinese citizens visited Guam in December 2019, according to the Guam Visitors Bureau’s December 2019 arrival summary report, with potentially hundreds more having visited Guam this past month. Other Guam tourism markets with confirmed cases include Malaysia, Singapore and Australia. In total, the WHO has confirmed 29 cases in the Western Pacific region as of January 28, 2020, and stated that the risk for spread of the virus regionally and globally is high.

“As we continue working together with key government agencies in preparing to respond to any potential public health and safety threat, we encourage our island community to monitor regional and local coronavirus reports to stay informed and make preparations if necessary,” said Vice Speaker Telena Cruz Nelson. “Public health and safety is of the utmost importance and we must all take responsibility in protecting our island from any potential threats.”