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MARCH 13, 2020

President Piñera announces measures to protect people in Chile from coronavirus: "We know that this threat to health must be addressed with unity and generosity"

The President announced that public events of more than 500 people are now prohibited, a $220 billion peso health fund has been created, the healthcare network will be strengthened, classes given in courses or schools with infected students must be suspended, and travelers from countries classified as high risk must remain in quarantine upon arrival in Chile. Every measure will be taken to ensure that the supply network and public transport continue to operate.

President Sebastian Piñera announced on Friday additional measures to protect people in Chile from the global coronavirus pandemic, and emphasized strengthening the healthcare network, caring for students in schools, limiting large public events and taking precautions at the country’s borders, along with securing the transportation system and supply chain.

"I am fully confident that all Chilean citizens know that this grave threat to the health of the nation must be addressed with unity and generosity, and protecting citizens is the first priority and concern of our government and this President" he said.

The President mentioned immediate measures, which included purchasing supplies and equipment, introducing a sanitary protection policy at borders and strengthening hospital capacity through healthcare staff reinforcements, designating 50 special centers to deal with the emergency, the operational start-up of 5 hospitals and strengthening the flu vaccination campaign.

"We are committed to doing everything humanly possible to mitigate the effects of this disease", said the President 

He mentioned that Chile has already reached Phase 2 infection, but is almost at Phase 3, when cases that arise abroad and in Chile are no longer traceable, and it is highly probable that Chile will reach Phase 4 soon, when such traceability is no longer possible and the most complex stage begins with viral circulation and spread within the community.

"We must prepare to face the most difficult stages of this epidemic, which require unity and collaboration from everyone, while always maintaining the healthcare of Chile’s citizens our number one priority", said the President

The measures announced by President Piñera in his message to the country were as follows.


A. EDUCATION 


At this stage, the following will apply to early education establishments, schools and universities:


1. Quarantine of 14 days for any member of an educational facility who has an immediate family member with a confirmed infection.


2. Suspension of classes for 14 days for the entire course when a student has a confirmed infection.


3. Suspension of classes for 14 days for the entire educational facility when there are two or more cases of confirmed infection.


These measures may be amended or extended to specific areas, such as neighborhoods or regions, as necessary. 


B. HEALTHCARE


1. Medical Leave

Employees who have had proven close contact with persons with confirmed cases of COVID-19 along with other workers who are required to undertake mandatory quarantine, will be entitled to medical leave. 


2. Diagnosis

The capacity exists to take the coronavirus diagnostic test for all those who require it. This will be free for all FONASA public health insurance beneficiaries taking the test in the Public Healthcare Network.


3. Hospital Capacity

Strengthening hospital capacity: We currently have 38,000 beds, which we have increased by 1,732 beds.  Additionally, and with the support of the Armed Forces, we will have a field hospital, 6 medical care posts (PAME) and the services of the Sergeant Aldea Hospital Ship. 


We will create a $220 billion peso fund to finance the purchase of supplies and equipment, strengthen hospitals and diagnostic laboratories, extend service hours, provide additional beds, fast-track hospital construction, the hospitals belonging to the Armed Forces and other requirements.


C. LARGE PUBLIC EVENTS

All public events throughout the country involving more than 500 people will be banned from Monday, in accordance with WHO recommendations. 


D. BORDER CONTROL

Everyone arriving from countries classified as High Risk by the World Health Organization will have to be quarantined for 14 days when entering Chile, to prevent the entry and spread of this virus and to protect the health of Chile’s citizens. These measures do not affect passengers who have only been in transit at the airports of said countries or the flight crews.

We are also implementing greater sanitary controls at all our land borders. We have already introduced a health declaration, and we will establish Customs health controls using medical examinations to diagnose the health status of travelers and accordingly allow or deny their entry into Chile.


E. SUPPLIES

All the necessary measures will be taken, in order to guarantee regular supplies to Chilean citizens.  


F. TRANSPORT    

Public transport will continue to function normally to ensure that Chilean citizens can continue to circulate, but stricter health measures will be introduced, such as the metro, urban buses and passenger trains being regularly disinfected.


G. ADDITIONAL MEASURES

1. A PRESIDENTIAL INSTRUCTION has been issued with various measures to protect public sector employees, including the following: 

All public employees over 75 years old, or who have a condition that puts them at risk, will be able to work from home.

Heads of Public Services may establish special measures to adopt flexible working hours and encourage teleworking. 

Only public ceremonies or events that are strictly necessary will go ahead, and participation will be restricted to a maximum of 100 people. 

Travel abroad by public employees will be restricted to trips that are indispensable.


2. We will extend the validity of identity cards for one year, to avoid people attending Civil Registry offices, and online procedures will be made available.


3. The Telework Bill for the private sector will be given maximum urgency, which will help to protect the health of employees. 


As of Friday, 43 cases of coronavirus had been registered in Chile, while 132,000 proven cases had been registered worldwide and 4,955 deaths.