Health Minister Jaime Mañalich gave the daily report on the COVID-19 epidemiological situation in Chile this morning, during which he announced new measures to control the spread of the coronavirus that will enter into effect at 10 pm on Friday, May 15.
The Health Minister has announced the most drastic measure to date: complete quarantine for the province of Santiago and six neighboring districts: San Bernardo, Buin, Puente Alto, Padre Hurtado, Lampa and Colina. He also included the municipalities of Iquique and Alto Hospicio in the Tarapacá Region.
Around the areas of the Metropolitan Region that remain in quarantine, sanitary customs points will be set up to limit transit and “decrease the risk of this infection being spread to other places. These measures must be taken and respected to avoid the risk of more people being hospitalized and so this focus on Greater Santiago does not lead to the virus spreading to other areas,” explained Minister Mañalich.
Meanwhile, an outbreak of infections has been identified in the San Antonio municipality in the Valparaíso Region and so a cordon sanitaire is to be put in place there to restrict entry into and exit from this area as of 10 pm on Friday.
Another measure that the Minister announced is that all people aged 75 and over must remain in mandatory quarantine, thus extending the quarantine measure stipulated for people over 80. This is because over 25% of the deaths are of people in this age range.
Minister Mañalich reported that the existing quarantine is to be lifted for the urban area of Arica and the municipalities of Angol and Victoria in La Araucanía.
Speaking about the quarantine being imposed by the Government, the Minister explained: “The battle for Santiago is - and excuse this central focus - the critical battle against the coronavirus. This is why we have to plead and beg and take every necessary measure very seriously. May the citizens have the best spirit of understanding and, above all, of collaboration, because, as we have been saying for a few days, May is proving to be a very tough month for our country.”
The Minister added, “we have to take the right measure at the right time. Having a nationwide quarantine when there were few cases did not make sense and the harm it would have done would have outweighed its benefits. We now have to put this measure in place at what we consider to be the right time, according to the epidemiological data.”
Speaking about the epidemiological situation in Chile, the Health Minister announced that as of 9 pm yesterday, 2,660 new cases of COVID-19 had been registered, of which 2,152 are people with symptoms of the virus and 508 who are asymptomatic. “This is a record figure since we began monitoring this pandemic,” the Minister said.
A total of 34,231 people have presented the virus, of whom 14,865 have recovered.
In the last 24 hours, the deaths of 11 people with the disease were notified, bringing the total number of deaths to 346.
Currently 621 people are in hospital, 538 of whom are connected to mechanical ventilators and 118 of them are in a critical condition.
The Minister added that there are 553 mechanical ventilators available. He reported that new ventilators will be arriving in Chile in the next 48 hours. “It is clear that we are experiencing very high demand and we have to make an additional effort,” he said.
Yesterday, the laboratories sent results for 10,410 CRP tests. To date, 313,750 tests have been done.
In regard to concerns by some private centers about the availability of supplies for doing laboratory analyses, the Health Minister explained: «Minsal (the Health Ministry) has acquired a significant number of CRP tests to maintain the current level of testing.”
He explained that “excess demand resulted in a shortfall in stock of supplies for them (some private establishments). It is not that private institutions have said ‘we're going to stop doing the tests,’ but that they are going to focus on those people with symptoms who come in for a consult and those who are hospitalized for some respiratory problem, which seems more than reasonable. In regard to the supplies, the demand was much higher than the supply that the private entities had planned for in their logistics, but tomorrow and the day after, the supplies the private establishments have forecast will reach them and, as long as these are effectively targeted as indicated, they won't have a problem.”