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MARCH 15, 2020

President Piñera announces new measures to halt the spread of Coronavirus

These include suspending classes in nursery schools, along with municipal, subsidized private and private schools for two weeks beginning on Monday, March 16. The government also implemented measures designed to protect the health of seniors in long-term care facilities, and established a quarantine for all National Youth Service (SENAME) children’s homes, among other steps.

In an effort to address Phase 3 of its Coronavirus response in Chile, which was declared yesterday by the Health Ministry, and in response to the confirmation of 75 cases of COVID-19, President Sebastián Piñera announced additional measures for addressing this situation in the country and protecting the health of all Chilean citizens.

The new measures are mainly focused on preventing the virus from spreading among the population.

1. Schools

Classes will be cancelled for two weeks in nursery schools, as well as municipal, subsidized private and private schools. This will go into effect on Monday, March 16.

In addition, the following measures will be adopted:

-Mechanisms for maintaining National School and Scholarship Assistance Council (JUNAEB) food services for impacted students who require them will be established.

-Support mechanisms will be implemented in schools for those children who require them.

-The municipalities have committed to Ethical Shifts in schools to provide care for children who need it based on their family and home situation. 

-The March flu vaccine campaign will begin tomorrow and measures will be established for those who require Coronavirus diagnoses.

-An online platform will be launched through the Education Ministry to facilitate remote learning for all students.

2. Senior citizens

Beginning on Monday, March 16, and for the next 30 days:  

  • Visits are prohibited at long-term care facilities for senior citizens with access restricted to essential personnel. Hygiene measures and isolation within the facilities will be strengthened.

  • All day care centers for seniors are suspended nationwide.

  • All neighborhood club and community centers for seniors are suspended nationwide.

3. Prison facilities

In an effort to protect the health of older adults who are incarcerated, this week the government will submit a bill to Congress to replace incarceration with complete house arrest for all inmates over the age of 75 and all inmates aged between 65 and 74 who have less than one year of their sentence to serve.

This bill excludes individuals convicted of serious crimes, human rights violations and crimes against humanity. In addition, measures will be taken to restrict the frequency of visits and the number of people who can participate in them. There is also to be increased sanitary control for the entry of all persons entering prison facilities.

4. Children and adolescents in SENAME children’s homes  

All of the country’s National Youth Service (SENAME) children’s homes will be placed in quarantine. As in the case of Senior Citizen Care Homes, only individuals who perform essential duties will be admitted and strict sanitary control measures will be implemented.

5. Public events

The maximum number of individuals who may participate in public events has been decreased from 500 to 200. This measure will go into effect on Wednesday, March 18.

6. Transportation

Hygiene measures have been reinforced on the Metro and on city and inter-city buses.

In accordance with WHO recommendations, protection masks are reserved especially for the sick in an effort to prevent new cases of infection, as well as for all personnel who have direct contact with the at-risk population.

7. Border crossings

In addition to the Sworn Statement, a Sanitary Border has been established incorporating a medical examination to assess the health of all persons arriving at the frontier, on the basis of which people will be allowed or refused entry into the country.

In order to prevent the virus from entering the country and spreading, and in an effort to protect the health of Chile’s citizens, anyone from countries classified as high-risk by the World Health Organization must remain in quarantine for 14 days after entering the country. Non-compliance will be punished with applicable fines.

All persons who pass through the Sanitary Border will receive a Health Passport for surveillance and monitoring of anyone from said high-risk countries.

8. Cruise ships

Cruise ships carrying passengers may not make landfall in Chilean ports through September 30.

In regard to the situation affecting Caleta Tortel, the community will be under quarantine for the next 14 days. Schools have been closed but all basic services are operational and food distribution is proceeding normally.

9. Flu vaccine

Given the severity of the flu outbreak observed during the winter in the Northern Hemisphere, the flu vaccine campaign will begin early starting this Monday and will last for two months. The goal is to vaccinate 8 million people, especially those in high-risk groups including children, seniors, pregnant women, individuals with chronic illnesses and healthcare workers.