March 26, 2020

Government announces 15 new laboratories to increase Chile’s capacity for diagnosing COVID-19

Government announces 15 new laboratories to increase Chile’s capacity for diagnosing COVID-19
This includes the collaboration of university and research centers across Chile, which are joining the existing network.

Health Minister Jaime Mañalich reported this morning that in the last 24 hours, 164 more people had tested positively for COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,306 people.  “We have 44 patients in hospital.  Four of them are quite seriously ill, with an uncertain prognosis.  Most of them are elderly people except for one young person whose illness is only associated with the coronavirus,” he said.

According to the Minister, a fourth death related to this disease occurred in the last few hours.  The deceased patient was an 80-year-old man who was hospitalized in the Biobío Region. 


In terms of diagnostic capacity, the Minister reported that more than 4,000 tests were carried out yesterday to confirm the diagnosis for COVID-19 and just 3.3% were positive.  “We interpret this to mean that the volume of tests being carried out across the country is quite high.  We are detecting a relatively low percentage of cases; in other words, we are testing people with respiratory symptoms but they are not infected by the coronavirus,” said the Minister.

Speaking about the regions of Coquimbo to the north, he said that a minimum of new cases have been reported, “which gives us some peace of mind in that it leads us to believe that the sanitary barrier established in the municipality of Los Vilos is doing its job,” he added. 

As regards the Metropolitan Region, the slight downward trend of new cases is continuing. Likewise, the outbreak in Maule and Ñuble is showing a decline in the number of new cases.

With respect to the quarantine measure to be implemented as of 10 p.m. today in the Santiago districts of Lo Barnechea, Vitacura, Las Condes, Providencia, Ñuñoa, Santiago and Independencia, the Minister stated that these areas were chosen for an objective reason.  “All of the Health Ministry’s regional offices are geo-referencing the number of cases per square meter, allowing us to decide which regions should be subjected to additional measures.”

Diagnostic network

Meanwhile, Science Minister Andrés Couve today announced that 15 new laboratories are to participate in a network of university and research centers across Chile, thereby increasing the country’s capacity for testing people who might be infected with the virus.

“We will initially expand it by 600 tests a day, which will be carried out in the Metropolitan Region, Concepción, Antofagasta and Punta Arenas. And, in the very near future, we should be able to reach 1,200 additional tests per day, which will significantly complement the capacities being coordinated by the Health Ministry in the public and private network,” said Minister Couve.