March 25, 2020
coronavirus

Chile’s Health Ministry announces measures to expand the capacity of the healthcare network

Chile’s Health Ministry announces measures to expand the capacity of the healthcare network
The new measures announced by Minister Jaime Mañalich include a cordon sanitaire around the town of San Pedro de la Paz in the Biobío region as of midnight tonight, a daytime curfew on Easter Island and a maximum price of 25,000 Chilean pesos (around US$30) for the CRP test, irrespective of an individual's health plan coverage.

As of today, the Health Ministry has registered 922 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Chile, 176 of which were diagnosed within the last 24 hours. To date, 40 people are hospitalized and another 17 have been discharged, according to Public Health Undersecretary Paula Daza.

New Measures

Health Minister Jaime Mañalich announced new public health measures to prevent the propagation of the COVID-19 virus in Chile and to expand the healthcare network’s ability to respond. 

Minister Mañalich announced the prohibition of all elective surgeries in the public and private health systems unless such prohibition represents a health risk for the patient.

The Health Superintendent’s Office will issue a decree on Monday suspending timeliness guarantees for ailments covered under the Auge scheme.

The minister noted that other additional measures are being considered, including adding beds available in the private health system into the network. “The health authorities can take control of private institutions under an agreement to protect the people.”

“We do not need to change the structure today. However, as I have said, we will need to take increasingly intense actions to control private healthcare centers in order to put them at the service of the people during this Coronavirus pandemic outbreak,” he said.

The minister continued, “bearing in mind what is to come, we have carried out a good pilot program with a clinic in Santiago that has already postponed all surgery and increased by 100 its capacity to provide intensive care with respirators for any patients who might ultimately require this level of care.”

He added that the ministry is carrying out a survey of the capacities at all of Chile’s healthcare centers in order to apply these regulations as the number of cases requiring hospitalization increases.

The minister also announced that he has worked with the national health system’s procurement center (Cenabast)  to speed up the delivery of personal protection elements for healthcare workers, “so that they have the maximum possible protection.”

Cost of CRP test

Minister Mañalich also announced that under current legislation, “we have established a maximum value of 25,000 Chilean pesos (around US$30) that an individual must pay for the Coronavirus CRP test, less any deductions for the cover provided by their health plan - especially by the private health insurance companies (Isapres) - for this exam.” He added that someone with an average Isapre health plan should pay a maximum of 5,000 Chilean pesos for the test. This value will be official once published in the Official Gazette.

Curfew

Now that the first case of COVID-19 has been confirmed on Easter Island, the origin of which cannot be traced, “we have decided that the curfew on the island will be between 2.00 pm and 5.00 am, beginning today and lasting indefinitely,” said the minister. Furthermore, the person in question and their family are in total quarantine.

In the town of San Pedro de la Paz, in the Biobío region, the number of cases has risen significantly due to religious rites that have been performed in the area, causing the illness to spread. Consequently, “as of midnight, tonight, a very strict cordon sanitaire will be in place around San Pedro de la Paz. No one may go in or out of the town unless it is very necessary and justified,” explained the Minister.

In the Metropolitan Region, the minister announced that checks are to be stepped up in the neighborhoods of eastern Santiago to ensure that people are complying with the quarantine rules. “There are about 8,000 people in Chile who must remain in quarantine,” said the minister.