SANTIAGO – Chile’s Heath Ministry on Tuesday reported 77,961 people have been infected with the novel coronavirus and 806 have died from the disease in the country.
In the past 24 hours ending 9 p.m. Monday local time (0100 GMT on Tuesday), 3,964 new cases were detected and 45 more patients died.
Of the new cases, 3,618 had symptoms and 346 were asymptomatic, while a total of 30,915 people have recovered from COVID-19 since the outbreak began.
Currently, 1,029 patients are on ventilators, including 229 in critical condition.
According to Health Minister Jaime Manalich, Chile is now turning to high-flow oxygen therapy, a less invasive treatment for patients that require help in breathing but are not so critical that they need to be put on a ventilator.
Meanwhile, intensive care units in the country’s hospitals are nearly at capacity amid a flood of coronavirus patients, and doctors are having to make wrenching choices over which patients should get available beds.
Health officials said 95% of the country’s 2,400 ICU beds are occupied even after a doubling of capacity from the levels in March. They announced plans to add 400 more critical care beds in the coming days.
“This is an extraordinarily difficult time,” Mañalich said.
A nation of 18 million people, Chile has the third most coronavirus cases in the region, after Brazil and Peru, with an average of 4,000 new infections reported daily. About 15% of the cases require hospitalization.
The Santiago region is home to 8 million people, who have been under mandatory orders for isolation at home for 11 days (until Friday). Except for a 10 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew, residents are allowed to obtain permission online to venture outside to perform necessary tasks, such as grocery shopping and taking pets for brief walks.