Health

Chile touts flattening of Covid-19 curve

Santiago, Jul 14 (efe-epa).- Chile detected 1,835 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, the health ministry said Tuesday, adding that the data show contagion has slowed by 15 percent in a week and by 37 percent over the last 14 days.

The number of Covid-19 fatalities climbed by 45 to 7,069.

“The improvement continues, the confirmation comes from the figures themselves,” Health Minister Enrique Paris said. “The positivity (percentage of people who test positive for the presence of the virus) is running at 15 percent on the national level.

“However, we look at the entire territory and while there are regions or communes (municipalities and districts) that are in a good situation, we are watching the evolution of Arica, Antofagasta and Tarapaca,” the minister said, citing three jurisdictions in northern Chile.

Hospital intensive care units across the country are treating 1,915 Covid-19 patients, nearly 1,600 of them on ventilators, ministry official Arturo Zuñiga said.

Among the patients on ventilators, 342 are in critical condition.

Addressing the gradual rollback of pandemic restrictions that began Monday in the southern regions of Aysen and Los Rios, Paris emphasized the measured pace of the liberalization.

“There is an enormous difference between emerging from quarantine and the re-opening (of the economy),” the minister said. “To reach re-opening, you must first come out of quarantine. They are different steps and it’s a very slow and long step.”

“For the moment,” Paris said, President Sebastian Piñera’s administration is not considering extending the re-opening to other parts of Chile.

Asked about a possible rescheduling of the Oct. 25 plebiscite on initiating the process of drafting a new constitution, he said that the matter was outside his purview as health minister.

“The Health Ministry acts only as a consultant in relation to the health conditions that have to be met to hold the plebiscite in the correct way,” Paris said.

“The Health Ministry has no reason to modify the date of the plebiscite,” he said.

With 319,493 confirmed cases, according to the tally kept by researchers at Johns Hopkins University in the United States, Chile is sixth in the world in the extent of Covid-19 contagion.

In the regional context, Chile is third, trailing Brazil, with 1.88 million cases, and Peru, which has 330,123.

Brazil is home to around 210 million people, but Chile, which ranks seventh in Latin America in population, has significantly more Covid-19 cases than countries that have a lot more inhabitants, notably Colombia, Argentina and Venezuela. EFE

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