Dr Nathaniel Berg, chairman of the governor’s physician advisory group, said there was nothing that could have been done to prevent omicron and the recent increase in COVID-19 cases must follow travel and gatherings vacation.
In a statement that follows a day with 210 cases of COVID-19, the highest daily number of cases and positivity rate since October, Berg urged residents to get tested for the virus that causes respiratory illness , to see a doctor if the flu-like symptoms progress quickly, get vaccinated or recalled, wear face masks and take other preventive measures.
Below is Dr Berg’s statement:
Håfa adai, I am Dr Nathaniel Berg. I chair the physician advisory group to the Governor of Guam.
The holidays have increased travel and gatherings. Our physician advisory group and public health officials predicted that this would lead to a rapid increase in cases and it does. And just like the Delta variant, there was nothing more we could have done to prevent Omicron from infecting our community.
We are certain that the Omicron variant is present on our island. And what do we do when our personal health or our community health suddenly takes a turn? We look to our health care providers and ask for advice.
If we each take the recommendations given to us with urgency and sincerity, we will recover as a community.
Here’s what we need to do now: We know that testing and treating COVID-19 as effectively as possible will help us heal. If you have any signs at this stage, such as a new cough, fever, or generally feeling tired, you should get tested quickly. And if your symptoms get worse, you need to do more than that. You need to see your health care provider. Perhaps more importantly, if you see rapid progression of symptoms, you need to go to the emergency room.
I don’t want to see any Dead on Arrival cases anymore. No one does. Go to the emergency room if your symptoms gradually worsen.
If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other significant medical conditions, this becomes especially important. I say this because in the world most of the people who have died from Omicron have had other health problems.
Current vaccines are expected to protect against serious illness, hospitalization and death due to infection with the Omicron variant. However, breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated people will occur. If you are vaccinated, you can still be infected. If you are vaccinated and you are infected, you are much less likely to get very sick. This is the important thing here.
Vaccines remain the best public health measure to protect the people of Guam from serious illness and death from COVID-19.
If you haven’t already, as always, we continue to strongly insist that all people 5 years of age and over are protected by getting a full vaccine. It will protect you against serious illnesses linked to COVID-19.
If you’ve already relaxed your personal measures – feeling good – things have changed.
It is now time for everyone to wear their mask correctly in indoor public places and especially in areas of significant or high community transmission, such as at school or in the health sector.
Each of us doing our part to take these steps with conviction will help us control our path. As we move forward into this new phase of the pandemic, this is extremely important. And we continue to monitor the availability of new COVID-19 antiviral pills. These pills were recently approved by the FDA for the treatment of COVID-19. We will keep you posted as Public Health has proactively placed their orders for these antiviral pills. In fact, they did it as soon as it was approved by the FDA.
Now the rest is really up to you and me as a community. The Physician Advisory Group is constantly reviewing transmission trends, updating health data, and analyzing our best defense. We will keep you posted.
We expect things to change quickly, but Guam has performed exceptionally well throughout this pandemic and after beating three outbreaks. We have the capacity and even the compassion to overcome this as a community again.