COVID-19: Chile confirms 277 coronavirus deaths; overall tally hits 16,000

SANTIAGO – Chile has so far confirmed more than 16,000 cases of coronavirus in the country, one of the countries with highest tally in Latin America, as the disease ravages the economy of the world’s top copper producer.

Health ministry officials said earlier this week that they were beginning to see a stabilization in the numbers of new cases, in the range of 300 to 400 in recent days.

Large swaths of Santiago, a city of 6 million, are under lockdown, and virtually all non-essential businesses have been closed for weeks.

Chile recorded its first coronavirus case on March 3 and took 23 days to reach 1,000 cases. It took only 13 more days to reach 5,000 on April 7.

The South American country has reported a total of 277 deaths, the health ministry said, while at least 8,580 people have recovered.

Stimulus measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic will deepen the fiscal deficit to 8%, the largest gap since at least 1990, the government said on April 17.

Chile has already announced a stimulus package of US$17 billion, worth more than 5% of gross domestic product. The measures include beefed-up unemployment checks and government-backed credit lines for small business.

The coronavirus is only the latest of Chile’s economic headaches. Mass protests and riots over inequality that broke out late in 2019 had already disrupted the country´s economy, leaving businesses with billions in losses and hammering growth and investment.

Globally, at least 212 countries and territories around the world and 2 international conveyances have been affected, with more than 235,000 people dead and over 3.34 million  infected by the disease. A total of 1.05 million people have also recovered from the mysterious illness.