The Ministry of Education announced on Wednesday, March 25, that school closures will be extended through the month of April. Though a precise date was not announced, schools are now expected to reopen in May. As a result, the schoolyear was extended through the end of December.
President Sebastian Piñera declared a state of catastrophe on Wednesday, March 18, in response to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The status entered into effect on Thursday, March 19, and will remain in place for 90 days. This will enable authorities to implement more restrictive measures progressively as the COVID-19 situation evolves. Supply chain for medicine and equipment will be further secured, as well as hospitals.
For now, a ban on public gatherings of more than 500 people and school closures remain in place. On Monday, March 16, President Sebastian Piñera announced the closure of Chilean land, sea, and air borders. The closure begins on Wednesday, March 18, and is expected to remain in place for 15 days. The ban does not apply to cargo and associated personnel.
As of Thursday, March 26, there are 1142 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Chile, including three deaths and 22 recoveries. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.