Chile’s healthcare system ‘very close to the limit’

Medical workers move a patient with Covid-19 by plane

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Covid-19 patients have been moved from the capital to relieve strain on intensive care units there

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed Chile’s healthcare system “very close to the limit”, according to President Sebastián Piñera.

“We are very conscious of the fact that the health system is under a lot of pressure,” he said on Sunday.

Almost 70,000 cases of the virus have been recorded in Chile and more than 700 people have died.

The capital Santiago, which is under a strict lockdown, is at the centre of the country’s outbreak.

“We are very close to the limit because we have had a very large increase in the needs and demand for medical attention, and for intensive care unit beds and ventilators,” Mr Piñera said at the opening of a new field hospital in the capital on Sunday.

There has been unrest over the coronavirus restrictions in Santiago in recent days, with clashes between protesters and police over food shortages during the lockdown.

Over the weekend, the government announced it was bringing forward the payment of a planned emergency basic income to help around a quarter of Chileans deal with the economic impact of the pandemic.

Almost 1.8m people would receive the payment from Saturday, the president said, with a further three million people expected to be paid on 10 June.

The benefit will last for three months.

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