May 2, 2020

Chile’s Health Minister reports 985 new COVID-19 cases and urges people to respect quarantine and cordon sanitaire rules

Chile’s Health Minister reports 985 new COVID-19 cases and urges people to respect quarantine and cordon sanitaire rules
The Health Minister called on the population to observe prevention measures like quarantine and social distancing, on the first day of the three-day Labor Day weekend.

During the daily COVID-19 briefing from La Moneda Palace, Health Minister Jaime Mañalich recognized the contribution that healthcare professionals and media professionals have made during the pandemic.  Referring to the number of new confirmed cases announced today, the Minister explained that 882 of them were people with symptoms and 103 without symptoms, all diagnosed through a positive CRP test.

The Minister said that the number, which is the highest since the pandemic began in Chile, is largely due to the increase in testing.  Over the last 24 hours, there has been a 13% increase in total testing and an 80% increase in the last 4 days.

With regard to the people in hospital with COVID-19, there are 428 patients in intensive care units, 327 of whom are connected to a mechanical ventilator, equivalent to 76% of the total.  At this time 65 people are in a critical condition.

The Health Minister was sorry to announce the passing of 7 people in the last 24 hours as a result of COVID-19. This places the total number of deaths nationwide at 238. 

The search for cases

Asked about the increase in cases from 888 yesterday to 985 today, the Minister explained that this is because of a change in the definition of a suspected case, where the spectrum of symptoms and types of contact with sick people have been broadened. It is also due to the active search for new cases.

“A few days ago we changed our methodology from waiting for a person with symptoms to seek attention and giving them the CRP test to identify whether or not they had the Coronavirus infection, to seeking out people because we are interested in knowing the universe of people that, while not having any symptoms, can infect others, so as to implement protection and isolation measures for them,” said the Health Minister.

Regarding the impact of the increase in confirmed cases on the use of hospital beds, he said: “from the healthcare perspective, we have in effect reached a plateau in demand.” 

“The total number of people connected to a ventilator is tending to decrease rather than increase. The number of people in intensive care units has remained absolutely constant, as has the number of deceased people, for more than two weeks as of this moment,” he explained.

Referring to the increase in the curve of new cases, the Minister added that “in line with the volume of testing, the epidemiological plateau will rise and fall over the next few days.  That’s why it is important to observe the number of patients connected to mechanical ventilation and the number of deaths, which as I’ve mentioned, are stable.”

Observation of quarantine 

“I believe that people’s resistance to the confinement measures is being tested severely. It is for this reason that we are appealing to everyone again. We cannot expect law enforcement officers to be able to control these coercive measures in every single case. Instead, we are appealing to everyone, once again, to have greater civic understanding. The confinement and isolation measures are absolutely necessary,” said the Health Minister today, referring to the people who have been leaving the Metropolitan Region and the pedestrians circulating in the city.

He continued, “take, for example, the city of Osorno. It has had a very strict cordon sanitaire and quarantine that, all in all, have been observed by the people who live there. So we feel reassured about this city. This is also the case with Chillán, where they had a very violent outbreak of the disease, but today we are confident because the population behaved appropriately.”

“So I am insisting again. It’s Friday, a public holiday; please let’s not do any damage. Our irresponsible attitude hurts other people; it kills other people and we need to clearly understand this because if we don’t, this disease will really last for many months. We will have many outbreaks of this disease in different places and we won’t be able to get back to our normal routines of going to work or school. It’ll take time to return to normal and that’s why being able to get back to normal depends on us, on each and every one of us,” concluded the Health Minister.