The Chilean Government has announced Thursday that the Santiago Metropolitan Area will return to full quarantine as of this Friday in light of the increase in coronavirus infections.
Seven million people have thus been placed under strict confinement in one of the South American countries with the best vaccination records.
Although in our country we have seen some stabilization of cases and in some regions positive trends, the Metropolitan Region worries us more because of the number of inhabitants and of ICU beds available, Public Health Undersecretary Paula Daza explained.
Occupancy of ICU beds in Santiago was reported to be at 98 per cent Thursday, even though some areas have been under total confinement measures for more than nine weeks.
The availability of beds, said Daza, is one of the important elements in the face of the arrival of winter, as low temperatures lead people to confine themselves instead of being outdoors or reduce the ventilation of spaces.
Daza admitted being aware that the quarantine is a very harsh measure. But “we clearly understand the negative effects it produces. After a long time, this measure tends to diminish its effect, she said.
Today, facing the critical situation that we are experiencing from the point of view of critical beds, it is the measure that we have seen as important to implement, at least during the next few weeks, to reduce infections and reduce the need for critical beds, she added.
According to health authorities, 7,716 new infections and 198 deaths were recorded Thursday, raising the total number since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to 1.45 million infected and 30,339 deaths.
Nationwide, 45,774 patients are in the active stage of the disease, which means that they have the capacity to spread the virus and of which more than 30,000 are in the Metropolitan Region, it was reported, while 3,266 people remain hospitalized due to Covid-19, of which 2,798 are on mechanical ventilation support.
Chile has not been able to contain the advance of the pandemic, despite deploying a massive vaccination campaign since the beginning of February, with more than 11.2 of the 19 million inhabitants already vaccinated with at least one dose.
Consulted by the Delta variant, which has already been identified in neighbouring countries such as Argentina and Peru, the authorities confirmed that it has not yet been spotted in Chile, which has closed its borders until June 30.
In addition to the 52 communes in the Metropolitan region, many of them with current quarantines, there are seven towns in other regions in similar circumstances.
With the new measures, 11 million Chileans will be under full lockdown, it was reported.
Health Minister Enrique Paris himself was under isolation due to covid-like symptoms and awaiting the result of the PR which turned out negative. Hence, Daza's appearance before the media.
According to the president of the Federation of Health Professionals, Fenpruss, Aldo Santibáñez, the situation of the covid-19 health crisis in Chile is more critical today than last year. The situation this year is much more complex than at the same point last year. The levels of contagion are very high and we insist: the burnout of health sector workers is at its maximum, both physically, emotionally and mentally.
Gabriela Flores, president of the Confederation of Health Officials, Confusam, said that ventilating a patient in the emergency service is equivalent to the dilemma of the last bed. The emergency services are not the places to keep patients of that severity. Those indicated are the Critical Care Units, she said.
And Patricia Valderas, president of the National Federation of Health Workers, patients with Covid-19 are admitted to clinics so that they do not die at home.” In her view, Chile is already in the third wave of the coronavirus.