SANTIAGO – Over six million residents will be under quarantine starting this Friday, May 15, Health Minister Jaime Mañalich announced. The measures are a response to the new record that was set on Wednesday, May 13. With 2,660 new confirmed cases in 24 hours, the outbreak in the Metropolitan region gets worse by the day.
One day after President Sebastián Piñera warned his people in a speech that Chile was “going to face the most difficult times and the greatest health challenges in decades in our country,” health authorities published alarming new numbers at their daily presser. In just 24 hours, 2,660 new cases were registered, while just a day before the daily record was broken with 1,658 new cases.
In response, all 32 districts that make up Greater Santiago or Gran Santiago will be under quarantine starting Friday, May 15 at 10:00 p.m. The districts San Bernardo, Buin, Lampa, Puente Alto, Colina and Padre Hurtado, geographically outside the Santiago province, are facing the same restrictions. All together over six million people will face quarantine measures for at least one week. At the press conference, Heath Minister Jaime Mañalich called the restrictions “extraordinarily tough measures.”
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“The important thing is that these measures are respected as much as possible, so that they have an impact on short term,” the minister said. He also reiterated that imposing a national lockdown in an earlier stage would not have made sense. “Having a national quarantine at a time when there were very few cases, did not make sense. The damage would have been greater than the benefits.”
The jump in cases comes just weeks after the government announced plans to return to a new normal, which included the opening of malls, the return of public workers to their jobs, and the issuing of immunity passports to stimulate the economy. Yesterday, the government announced that the immunity passports would be postponed and earlier Las Condes mayor Joaquín Lavín closed the Apumanque Mall after opening it for one day.
Whether the new measures will help, remains to be seen. International health experts warn a lockdown is only be effective if imposed for at least two weeks. In the meantime, hospitals in Santiago are already warning about the collapse of the public health system in the capital. Earlier today, the Health Ministry warned that it ran out of stock to perform PCR tests.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today.