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22 Mar 2020 | 08:31 PM UTC

Guam: Authorities confirm first COVID-19 fatality March 22 /update 1

Guam’s government confirms first fatality due to COVID-19 and requests for major disaster declaration on March 22; further spread of the virus expected

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Event

Guam's government confirmed the country's first fatality due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) on Sunday, March 22. The individual was a 68-year-old with underlying medical conditions. Authorities have confirmed at least 15 cases of COVID-19 in Guam as of March 22, with possible community spread. Meanwhile, Guam's Governor Lou Leon Guerrero has requested for a major disaster declaration for the country to obtain federal funding to combat the virus.

As a precautionary measure, non-essential services fitness centers, bars, movie theaters, restaurants, and government offices remain closed, while gatherings with 100 people or more have been banned until Monday, March 30. The government has advised the public to remain at home, observe good personal hygiene and to practice social distancing especially with the elderly.

Further international spread of the virus is expected in the coming days and weeks.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.