By Troy Torres
(Tumon, Guam) The government at around 2 p.m. today told Kandit there are two suspected cases of Dengue infection aside from the two confirmed cases. At around 4 p.m., the Joint Information Center retracted the statement and asked that we wait for a news release to be provided following a briefing of emergency operations officials. At 6:37 p.m. the JIC released information that there are, in fact, more suspected cases of Dengue infection awaiting laboratory confirmation.
Information from the government, particularly from the Department of Public Health and Social Services has been handled haphazardly and amateurishly, despite the government spending millions of dollars on the training of DPHSS employees off island. This includes training in emergency management.
“Although aggressive mosquito control efforts are ongoing, DPHSS anticipates the identification of other suspected and confirmed cases,” said Linda Unpingco-Denorcey, DPHSS Director. “We remind the community to assist with preventative measures at home and to protect themselves when they go outside. A community-wide response is needed in order to minimize the spread of the dengue virus.”
The government also confirmed the canvassing of areas within the 200-meter radius zone of the confirmed patients’ homes. Officials have been clearing debris and spraying only certain areas within the radius, according to Jenna Blas, Civil Defense spokeswoman.
Department of Education superintendent Jon Fernandez finally provided public school students with a letter to take home to their parents informing them of the threat and providing information on how to avoid infection. This information comes more than a week following his knowledge of the first infected patient, a 12-year-old student at Agueda Johnston Middle School who lives in Mangilao.
Kandit previously brought you the story of the Superintendent’s failure to comply with board policy and its ensuing Standard Operating Procedures #1300-002, which requires him and his public information officer, Isa Baza, to inform the schools community of what is happening. It is unclear whether today’s belated release of information was translated into different languages, as the protocol requires.