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Mañalich pointed out that quarantine could restrain people from basic services and rights, such as medical attention in an emergency case.
Chilean Health Minister Jaime Mañalich opposes to decree a total quarantine due to COVID-19. The South American nation is under a medical emergency because of the virus spreading. Mañalich ordered quarantine only to retirement homes due the seniors' condition as a vulnerable population.
The functionary declared to local media: "The possibility of having a total quarantine, that is, the whole country being paralyzed for the next four months, is something that nobody is doing in the world. The countries that have tried to do this, I mean Italy, Spain, have failed miserably because a total quarantine means a very serious risk to people's lives in one respect: that is to ensure that they have their food.”
The health minister offered these declarations during a visit to Osorno city in the Los Lagos region, where sanitary authorities implemented quarantine as a preventive measure against the virus and contagious increase.
Mañalich pointed out that quarantine could restrain people from basic services and rights, such as medical attention in an emergency case. The functionary said: "When you do a total quarantine you know what is at stake that these people can take out the garbage, that they can go to the doctor when it is appropriate and that they can acquire or get supplies without hoarding. Very few people have money in their pockets to hoard and keep our daily bread on the table.”
El ministro de Salud, Jaime Mañalich, dijo que ve "prácticamente imposible" que en Chile se aplique la medida de cuarentena general. Esto, en respuesta a la solicitud que han continuado haciendo diversas autoridades, especialmente alcaldes, quienes instan hace semanas al Gobierno
"Health Minister Jaime Mañalich said he sees it as "practically impossible" for the general quarantine measure to be applied in Chile. This, in response to the request that has continued to be made by various authorities, especially mayors, who have been urging the government for weeks"
Despite these Mañalich arguments, several mayors from the southern zone of the Metropolitan region requested the Health Minister for an official quarantine disposition.
"Given the curve of infected people in the region, the number of critical patients and the capacity of our health network, we are convinced that the time has come to no longer postpone the implementation of a measure such as quarantine, a sanitary fence and the advancement of the curfew in the entire Metropolitan region," the mayors requested in a signed letter.
Mañalich's decision of not declaring quarantine has been criticized as a strategy of the rightist functionary to prioritize the economy over people’s behalf. Besides, as some local news media reports, there are not enough medical supplies to give sanitary assistance to those in need or bio-safe equipment for hospital personnel. Even with these alarming situation and WHO instructions to practice social isolation, Mañalich refuses to declare it and asks Chilean people to keep calm.
So far, Chile registers 3404 positive cases and 18 deaths due to the virus.