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Chile decreed curfew since this Sunday to try to curb coronavirus contagion


Writes Jenaro Jaimes Ram

The Chilean government announced a curfew this Sunday at 10pm at 5am due to the coronavirus pandemic, which amounts to 632 confirmed cases and one death 20 days after recording its first infection.

"The president has led a curfew throughout the national territory as of today," Health Minister Jaime Mañalich announced at a press conference from the Palacio de la Moneda, seat of the Santiago government.

The minister explained that the number of daily cases has stabilized in the last four days, with a number close to 100 per day, as the first positive test was confirmed on 3 March.

On Saturday, an 83-year-old woman became the first victim of a coronavirus, contracted at a family reunion at her home, where one of the members had come from abroad.

The government, which increased its ability to conduct daily testing, announced new national preventive measures, as they have confirmed positive cases in very remote areas, and also due to disobedience of citizens, even among those infected with coronavirus with mild symptoms who were ordered to quarantine at home and raped.

Soldiers patrol the streets after a declaration of
Soldiers patrol the streets after a declaration of "state of catastrophe" (Reuters)

Authorities plan to establish a total quarantine in Puerto Williams, some 3,600 km south of Santiago, at the mainland end, as well as health cords in several northern and southern regions.

In a climate of voluntary partial confinement that has emptied the public spaces of the main cities of the country, the authorities are taking tougher measures after the large influx of local tourists to the spas of the central coast, about 100 kilometers from Santiago, which was seen on Friday.

In the three richest communes in Chile, located in Santiago, most cases of Covid-19 are concentrated in this country. For this reason the authorities announced that they will establish strict police control – supported by the Armed Forces – in the neighborhoods of Providencia, Las Condes and Vitacura, "which are the focus of expansion of the most relevant coronavirus in the country," the minister said.

Workers use a drone to spread disinfectant in Talcahuano (Reuters)
Workers use a drone to spread disinfectant in Talcahuano (Reuters)

A significant number of residents of these areas have a second home on the beaches of the central coast, where local villagers, fishermen and people working in the service, prevented on Friday with barricades from entering these towns, which have small medical centers, many of them precarious.

Although there is very little activity on the streets, the Government has not yet decreed preventive confinement, as other neighboring countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru have done, but more and more voices are calling for it, especially in the capital, where most cases are recorded.

The Government is currently refusing to declare quarantine throughout the territory, but it did order this Sunday the confinement of the population in the southern city of Puerto William, thus joining the quarantines that were already in force on the remote Easter Island and in small towns of Chilean Patagonia, where an infected tourist traveling on a cruise ship walked.

The position was explained by the Minister of Health, Jaime Mañalich, in statements that viralized in the networks with comments of taunts. "What if this virus mutates into a more benign form? What if he mutates and becomes a good person?" said Mañalich in an interview with The Chilean news channel 24 Hours in response to criticism of the government for the lack of new restrictions.

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