Health Minister Enrique Paris began his presentation of today’s report by stating, “This is a very special day, because I am completing my first month as Health Minister. I would obviously like to thank the team that has accompanied me over the past 30 days, particularly all of our healthcare workers, from the humblest to all those who are on the front lines, the primary care providers, all of the employees who are contributing to the fight against this pandemic.”
He mentioned that improvement is ongoing and that there has been a significant decrease in the number of positive cases. There has been a 15% drop in new cases over the past 7 days and a 36% drop in new cases over the past 14 days. Furthermore, the rate of positive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which allows us to measure viral presence, is currently at 15%. This means that the country is fortunately moving towards very low positivity rates.
“Today we are beginning the step by step process of ending quarantine in two regions of the country. However, it is important to reinforce both individual and social responsibility in these regions and nationally. If we want to have a successful process, we must proceed with caution and with the cooperation of the public. I am calling upon our population to cooperate and to understand that this is a very important effort that we are engaged in.”
In the two regions in which confinement is ending, Aysén and Los Ríos, Minister Paris said that it is necessary to proceed with as much caution as possible and that ending confinement is voluntary. “Anyone who does not wish to go out is free not to do so. Anyone who does not wish to open their café or restaurant is free not to do so. This is not mandatory – it is voluntary. I believe that it is especially important for older adults to take walks, to get out a little, because it helps strengthen their muscles and calcium depositing in their bones,” Minister Paris noted.
He also noted that the coronavirus is a difficult, unknown virus that can even be “treacherous” and that evolves in unpredictable ways. “We have seen resurgences in other countries. We have seen that this virus returns once we let our guard down. We are not immune to that reality. If we have to take a step back and roll back certain measures, we will do so. But we want to move forward step by step, and step by step, slowly, we will lift up Chile,” the Minister noted.
He then gave the floor to Sports Minister Cecilia Pérez. She stated that the collective single permit for high-performance athletes and professional soccer had been approved. “This occurred because it was necessary in terms of the health of our athletes, who have been unable to train for many months and thus could not participate in competitions that are key for each one of them,” Minister Pérez explained.
Who are the beneficiaries? In the case of professional soccer, this collective single permit is restricted to First Division A and First Division B. There are 18 teams in First Division A and 15 in First Division B. The permit is solely for teams that are under quarantine due to the location of their training activities or the residency of the athletes. In other words, out of a universe of 33 teams, this special single permit is necessary to allow a total of 18 teams with 540 people to return to training.
In addition, 94 referees will be able to resume their training and support the resumption of professional soccer competitions. “In this regard, I would like to thank ANFP President Sebastián Moreno and ANFP Medical Director Dr. Fernando Yáñez for all these weeks and months of work,” the Sports Minister said.
In the case of high-performance sports, the special single permit will benefit 250 athletes. The Minister expressed her gratitude to Olympic Committee President Miguel Ángel Mujica and Chile’s Paralympic Committee President, Ricardo Elizalde.
The Minister explained the criteria that were used to adopt the measure. In the case of the 250 high-performance athletes who will benefit from the collective single permit, the criteria were set out in the Olympic Plan. They include athletes who have qualified for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, athletes who have the potential to do so, and athletes who are training for key Olympic cycle events such as World Championships or specific Pan-American and South American games. These 250 high-performance athletes include competitors, trainers and head coaches.
“I want to be very emphatic, because it has been difficult, and I am grateful to the Health Ministry officials who have worked on this permit, understanding that each of the high-performance sports and professional soccer institutions stated that they would get back to work when the health officials made such a decision based on the behavior of the pandemic,” Pérez noted.
The 884 beneficiaries of this special single permit may use it starting at 10 p.m. on Wednesday solely to travel between their training facility and their homes. In other words, this permit can only be used for training and to allow athletes to recover the level of physical and mental health that they were accustomed to prior to suspending their respective training activities.
In the case of soccer teams located in the 18 municipalities under quarantine and for which this special single permit is in place, the maximum number of beneficiaries is 30 per team. This does not include individuals who have a special work permit due to their profession or position, such as healthcare professionals and security guards. However, in any case, all of them must follow the resolution issued by the Health Ministry that was published in the Official Gazette, which states that open training areas may not have more than 50 people at one time.