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Saipan sees dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases

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HAGATNA, Guam — An outbreak of COVID-19 on Saipan sent their case numbers soaring Tuesday.

Health officials said there were 98 new cases confirmed, which is 17% of all known infections since the start of the pandemic, the Guam Pacific Daily News reported.

“The numbers are huge, or large, and it’s concerning for all of us as well,” Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation CEO Esther Muna said in a press conference Tuesday.

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands have had relatively low cases since March 2020 with only 572 known infections.

The Northern Marianas have about 57,000 residents. The islands have seen a surge in cases since the end of October. About half of all known infections in the islands have been reported in November.

Most of Tuesday's cases — 82 of the 98 — were linked to a known case, according to Pacific Island Health Officers’ Association regional epidemiologist Stephanie Kern-Allely.

Kern-Allely said there is an “emerging cluster” in a group living facility.

None of the cases identified since the community outbreak began have involved severe illness, Kern-Allely said, and nobody was hospitalized with COVID-19 on Saipan, Pacific Daily News reported.

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