SANTIAGO – Jaime Mañalich, the authority in times of the worsening coronavirus outbreak in Chile, was replaced as Health Minister on Saturday. Enrique Paris will take over. Mañalich came under increasing pressure as coronavirus numbers in Chile have been skyrocketing and public hospitals are collapsing.
Just days after President Sebastián Piñera announced a cabinet reshuffle, another minister exits. This time, it is Health Minister Jaime Mañalich, whose ministry has received most pressure during the crisis. Shortly after the announcement, Piñera swore in Enrique Paris as health minister. Paris led the Medical College between 2011 and 2017 and was Dean of the Faculty of Sciences at Universidad Mayor. He was also member of the Covid-19 council that worked closely with the president, advising him on the pandemic.
Mañalich came under fire for his ministry’s confusing communication, the lack of preparation ahead of the outbreak which caused the collapse of public hospitals, and later the constantly changing methodology of counting Covid-19 related deaths.
A publication from investigative platform CIPER, showing that the Health Ministry’s statistics department reports a higher number of deceased to the World Health Organization (WHO) than to the public, probably was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.
Mañalich already abstained from the ministry’s daily update on Saturday, as yet another 24-hour record in deaths – 231 – was published. New cases and new deaths are soaring in Chile, despite weeks of restrictions and quarantine measures in, amongst other parts, the Metropolitan region. Chile is seeing the biggest rise in new cases per million inhabitants worldwide.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.