Some schools in Antofagasta were reported to have suspended on-site classes as the number of COVID-19 cases nationwide continues to grow.
Chilean health authorities Thursday reported a steady increase in the number of COVID-19 infections with 11,525 new cases reported, the highest number of patients being in the northern regions.
Active cases rose to 37,742 while deaths confirmed by the Department of Health Statistics and Information (Deis) were 65, bringing the total number of coronavirus-related fatalities to 59,698.
Positivity also rose to 15.44% nationwide, according to data stemming from 45,840 PCR tests.
The worst positivity was in Antofagasta (1,340 kilometers north of Santiago) with 21.67% leading 13 schools to halt face-to-face classes, followed by Coquimbo (470 kilometers north of Santiago), with 19.58%; and O'Higgins, 80 kilometers south of the capital, with 19.22%. Santiago's Metropolitan area stood at 12.01%. Over 18 million people live in Santiago.
Regarding hospitalizations, the Health Ministry reported there were 165 patients in Intensive Care Units (13 less than a week ago and 8 less than two weeks ago), of which 112 were on mechanical ventilation support. A total 234 beds are available, according to Ministry sources.
Antofagasta health official Jéssica Bravo insisted that epidemiological studies showed that the coronavirus tends to spread when students and employees who have symptoms associated with the pathology attend classes. She stressed that if a teacher or education worker, or a student has a respiratory condition, he/she should be tested even if they suspect it is a minor situation, such as a cold and wait for the result.
She also pointed out there was a drop in the perception of risk regarding COVID-19. Hence the need for students, teachers, and workers to keep wearing masks and maintain proper social distancing, in addition to other sanitary measures.
If a college, school, or kindergarten has three courses where there are at least three people with the pathology, the entire establishment must suspend its classes, that is the general rule, Bravo explained.
Bravo had forecast early last month that by the end of July there would be a peak of COVID-19 infections.