The President of Chile, Sebastian Piñera, changed his Minister of Health in the middle of the crisis due to the coronavirus. Jaime Mañalich He left his post after it emerged that the country informed the World Health Organization (WHO) that deaths from the pandemic are almost double those officially registered. In his replacement, he assumed Enrique Paris.
“I want to tell Paris that she assumes in very difficult times. That reflects a courage and deep love for Chile. His first mission will be to lead the fight against the coronavirus in order to protect the lives of Chileans ”, emphasized the Chilean president after the swearing-in of the new official.
“He also has the task of leading a profound health reform, both public and private. No one knows for sure how long this pandemic will last, but we all know that the best way to face it is with unity, collaboration and dialogue ”, he continued.
In a brief speech and, after thanking Mañalich for his work, Piñera stressed: “We need responsibility to protect our lives and we need solidarity to protect the lives of others. I make a fervent call that we all respect the sanitary instructions”.
The change in the portfolio occurred on the day it was reported the highest daily death toll since the change in casualty count and the contagions do not stop growing. The country registered 231 new deaths, which represents a new daily record and raises the official figure to 3,101 deaths.
However, there is a controversy around the total victims since the Government of Piñera sent a report to the WHO in which it admits that the number would be almost double: more than 5,000, according to a document accessed by the Chilean Center for Journalistic Investigation and Information (CIPER).
Experts familiar with the methodology used and the report to WHO have explained to CIPER that the Department of Statistics (DEIS) of the Ministry has counted more than 5,000 deaths because it counts not only the dead with a positive PCR test in the death records of the Civil Registry, but also those classified as suspect or attributable to COVID-19.
These figures are delivered weekly to the Ministry’s Health Planning Department (DIPLAS) and are subsequently sent to the cabinets of the now former minister Mañalich and the undersecretaries Paula Daza and Arturo Zúñiga.
After being consulted, the Ministry explained that “This is not a definitive statistic, as it must undergo further processing and scrutiny that may incorporate corrections”.
“The WHO requests from the liaison offices of the countries, exclusively for epidemiological surveillance purposes, information on suspected, probable, deceased cases with and without diagnostic confirmation of COVID-19 by the laboratory, which Chile sends once per week, “said the Ministry of Health.
“The World Health Organization does not publish these records, but they are for the exclusive use of epidemiological surveillance,” the portfolio clarified.
The representative of the WHO in Chile warned about the problem of communicating the figures
The representative of WHO and PAHO in Chile, Fernando Leanes, assured that the main problem that the country presents in terms of the figures it reports daily is communicational type and not of diagnosis or registration of patients.
“Compared with other countries, Chile is doing well in the diagnosis, it is doing well in the registry, but there have been difficulties in communication“, A situation that would be” diverting “national attention from avoiding new infections, Leanes said in an interview with the local station Radio Universe.
In Chile it has been inserted weeks ago criticism of the Ministry of Health due to the constant changes in definitions at the time of counting deaths, infections and active cases. These methodological changes have confronted the health authorities of the Government of Sebastián Piñera with experts in the matter from other organizations.
The current definition when accounting for the deceased It is based on crossing the information from the Civil Registry with the positive results of the PCR testsTherefore, it reports deaths from several previous days and not from the last 24 hours.
To resolve the controversy regarding the different methodological criteria used in the country when quantifying the progress of the pandemic, Dr. Leanes stated that “the country’s experts should have a consensus language”.
Likewise, the representative of the WHO highlighted as “very important”The change in strategy being implemented by the Chilean Ministry of Health, granting more resources and obligations to municipal systems, the strengthening of health residences to isolate active or probable cases, and the delivery of social assistance for those who cannot be quarantined for livelihood issues.