Chile confirms 77,961 cases of coronavirus, 806 deaths

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.

Brazil now has second highest number of COVID-19 cases globally

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.