COVID-19: Health Ministry confirms that Chile has entered Phase 3
Today President Sebastián Piñera led an inter-ministerial meeting at La Moneda Palace to coordinate the deployment of preventive actions designed to protect the population from Covid-19.
Following the meeting, it was formally announced that the country has moved into Phase 3. This is based on the fact that it has not been possible to trace the origin of some of the confirmed cases.
“We are formally announcing what the President alluded to yesterday: we are in Phase 3. This means that some of the cases that have been confirmed positive in the past few hours in our country cannot be directly traced to a case abroad. We knew that this day would come. We are prepared for it, but this means that we are facing a more delicate situation from the epidemiological perspective of the disease,” Minister Jaime Mañalich explained.
In regard to measures for avoiding the entry and spread of the virus, it was announced that anyone entering Chile from Iran, China, Korea, Japan, France or Germany must be quarantined, as well as those arriving from Spain and Italy. “We are in a critical situation. Coronavirus is impacting our population, which is why President Sebastián Piñera has asked us to continue to strengthen the measures taken,” said Public Health Undersecretary Paula Daza.
In addition, a sanitary passport has been created at every port of entry. This means that anyone entering from a high-risk country will go through a sanitary customs office so that officials can determine whether they may enter Chile. A clinical examination will be performed, and if officials deem it necessary, the individual will be tested for Coronavirus.
In regard to large-scale events, Minister Mañalich reported that special events, meetings, and festivals with over 500 attendees are prohibited. “If we have more than 500 people participating in daily activities in the Santiago airport, a mall or a supermarket, there will not be any restrictions for now as long as they are not special events that are associated with a specific invitation,” the Inter-Ministerial Coordinator of the Coronavirus Plan explained.
The Assistance Network Undersecretary, Arturo Zúñiga, clarified that the Health Ministry has been taking steps since March 15 and has designed a plan to address Phase 4. However, he called on the public to support these efforts to contain Coronavirus. “We can do a great deal to contain this virus as a ministry, but we are calling for solidarity. We need the public to take self-care measures, follow quarantine protocols, avoid greeting each other with handshakes or kisses, and to adhere to the most effective measure which is to wash their hands frequently. This situation will become very difficult without the public’s support,” he added.
Cruise ships under quarantine
The officials also reported on two cruise ships that are under quarantine in Chile. The first is the Azamara, which sailed from Ushuaia on March 9 and has 675 passengers and 398 crew members on board. The ship was headed to Puerto Chacabuco but was unable to dock. The Regional Ministerial Secretariat (Seremi) was in place to take samples. The second ship is the Silver Explorer, which has 120 crew members and 111 passengers. In this case, an 83 year-old British passenger came ashore from the ship, and is now in a stable condition in Coyhaique Hospital after testing positive for Covid-19.