In Chile, the health system is “very close to the limit” because of the coronavirus


Chilean President Sebastian Piñera said on Sunday that his country’s health system is “very close to the limit” following the dramatic increase in coronavirus infections in recent days. During a visit to a hospital in the capital, Santiago, which has the highest number of confirmed infections, Piñera explained that Chilean health is at risk of collapse due to a significant increase in requests for intensive care units and lung fans.

The Chilean Society of Intensive Medicine released a report on May 23 stating that at that time 1,750 places were occupied in intensive care out of the 2,068 available, about 85 percent. 1519 patients underwent assisted ventilation, 1120 of whom were intubated. Since the beginning of May, more than 500 new intensive care places have been created. The situation, however, worsened from 10 to 23 May when the hospitalized in those wards went from 1658 to 2068.

The Health Minister said there were 3,709 new cases of contagion in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 69,102. The death toll, however, rose to 718. Despite the emergency situation, President Piñera said that the country must prepare for a reopening and a resumption of economic activities, because Chile cannot be “permanently in quarantine”. Piñera also announced the opening of a new field hospital in Santiago.

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The first case of coronavirus in Chile was detected in early March and a third of the country’s approximately 19 million inhabitants are now in quarantine, especially those from large urban centers. Last Friday, when the total number of infections was reaching 50 thousand, the government decided to tighten the isolation measures, with the total blockade of some large cities such as the capital Santiago. At the same time, income support measures were approved: Piñera had announced that 1.8 million people would receive contributions immediately and another 3 million by 10 June. This “emergency income” will be granted for three months.

Despite these interventions, there have also been violent protests in various cities of the country, especially in neighborhoods inhabited by the poorest population who denounce food shortages during isolation. In El Bosque, a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Santiago, protesters erected barricades and threw stones at the police, who responded by firing tear gas.

The coronavirus emergency has rekindled protests against the government that have been going on in Chile since last October, after the approval of a law that increased the ticket price for the metro in the capital Santiago. However, many other topics continued, including the great inequalities in the country and the Chilean Constitution, drawn up at the time of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Due to the pandemic, the referendum called for April 26 to review the Constitution has been postponed to October 25.

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Chile’s situation is no different from other South American countries, where coronavirus cases have increased significantly in recent weeks, such as Brazil, which is now the second country in the world with the most confirmed cases of contagion (363,211), behind only the States. United that have now exceeded one and a half million infections.

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