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MARCH 3, 2021

One year after the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Chile, health officials warn that the pandemic still exists and urge people to maintain preventative measures

A shipment of 229,125 doses of the vaccine against the virus arrived to Chile today, the largest shipment yet from the Pfizer-BioNTech laboratory.

One year after the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Chile, and within the context of the arrival of the largest shipment yet of vaccines against the virus, officials from the Health Ministry commemorated the work that has been done, making it clear that the pandemic has not ended and people should maintain self-care measures in order to avoid infection.

Health Minister Enrique Paris, together with Public Health Undersecretary Paula Daza and Healthcare Networks Undersecretary Alberto Dougnac, were at the logistics operations center to witness the arrival of a total of 229,125 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.  This was the seventh shipment from this laboratory to arrive in Chile.  These doses are in addition to the 8,599,651 Sinovac doses already accounted for within the national vaccination plan against the virus.

The pandemic continues and we should maintain self-care measures.  Chile has vaccines for the entire population thanks to our President´s leadership, and above all, to the joint effort between primary healthcare personnel and city mayors,” said the Health Minister as he received the new shipment of vaccines on the exact same date that the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Chile one year ago, on March 3, 2020. 

Minister Paris expressed his condolences for those who have lost their lives due to the virus.  “We know that they are missed.  There will be a time to pay tribute to the 20,000 Chileans who have lost their lives due to the pandemic.  They are citizens of this country, they gave their lives, they worked for Chile.”

Health Minister Paris also informed that the health crisis management during the pandemic “has positioned Chile in first place within the region for its vaccination campaign.  This week we are going to have more than 4 million people vaccinated and the promise was to have 5 million by the end of March.”

Minister Paris noted that during this year with the pandemic “there was never a bed or ventilator missing.  Our country leads in testing with more than 9 million PCR tests, ranking first in Latin America and among the top 27 in the world.  And we rank third in the world in vaccinations, taking into consideration the size of the population.  This is a matter of State.” 

We had prepared ourselves two months earlier by working on a plan requested by the President with three general guidelines: create and strengthen a network of laboratories in Chile to allow for timely diagnosis, epidemiological surveillance for tracking and a reinforcement of the healthcare network, as we see occurred,” said Public Health Undersecretary Paula Daza, as she reported on the Ministry’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic since its onset in Chile.

Based on this plan, Undersecretary Daza reported that Chile now has more than 140 laboratories that allow for more than 60,000 exams to be performed daily.  An active case search strategy was also implemented in order to identify asymptomatic sick people.  She added that in every region of the country there are professionals and strategies to trace cases.   

The Undersecretary highlighted that the Healthcare Residence Plan, which today has more than 12,500 available occupancies for those who cannot effectively isolate themselves in their own homes, “has been recognized throughout the entire world.”  She also thanked the mayors of Chile for their support. 

As part of the planning, Undersecretary Daza mentioned the “effort of many stakeholders who have worked so hard,” like universities, scientific societies and ministries.

Healthcare Networks Undersecretary Dougnac observed that, “after a very difficult year for all, for so many families who mourn the death of their dear ones, we wish to express, as health officials, our deepest sympathy.”

I also want to thank all of the healthcare workers who have given their support and worked relentlessly to save lives.  There are thousands of people who have been hospitalized.  Primary healthcare workers have also played a key role in the testing, tracing and isolation strategy, as well as in the vaccination campaign.  My most sincere gratitude goes to all of them for allowing so many Chileans to get through this,” the Undersecretary said.