As part of her trip to the Los Lagos region, the Minister of Health, Ximena Aguilera, visited the Cesfam Varas Varas vaccination center, located in the municipality of Puerto Montt, where the minister stressed the goal of the population to be inoculated with the bivalent vaccine against SARS -CoV-2 and to maintain preventive measures, despite criticism for the slowness of the process.
“We want to make a very strong appeal to people to get vaccinated, to take advantage of this period in which, although we have had a slight increase in cases, we have not had a large number of serious cases, but it is precisely because of the vaccination and that people must go and get vaccinated,” said the country’s top health authority.
Minister Aguilera said that during her visit, she reviewed hospital officials’ vaccination data and noted that this figure is low in the region, which is why she called “health officials to go get the bivalent vaccine.”
The head of Health highlighted the elderly population, which “has been very obedient in the sense of following the indications of the health authorities and this has made it possible to reduce the impact that this disease has on them, so they continue on his example”.
During the activity, the Secretary of State reiterated that “the pandemic is not over and we must learn to live with this virus”, and recalled that last October the country moved on to the Opening Phase, where “we saw how, after that, there are surges of cases, but fortunately, thanks to vaccination and the precautions that people take, it hasn’t led to stress in hospitals and there hasn’t been a very sharp increase in bed use, which is what which interests us particularly . ”.
“It is very important that given what is happening in the northern hemisphere, and in particular in China, we have decided to extend the health alert to have all the tools at hand in case we need to, for example, change the phase in which we are , which is not seen for now ”, added the head of Health.
Locally, Dr. Aguilera assured that “we are working with the Seremi to intensify the vaccination work and, likewise, with the director of the Reloncaví Health Service, we are all very concerned that we can actually buy time for the preparation of any eventuality that happens with the pandemic ”.
The head of epidemiology calls for self-care measures to be maintained
The head of Epidemiology of the Ministry of Health, Christian García, took stock of the evolution of the pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2, in which he explained that “in the last seven days there has been a decrease in cases of 15 %, however, in the previous weeks we were observing a slight increase in cases ”.
Despite this figure, Dr. García stressed that “this disease is difficult to predict and infections can increase and decrease successively, so it is essential to maintain self-care measures and that the entire population has updated their vaccination schedule” .
In this line, he stressed that it is very important that we all continue to take care of ourselves, we must maintain permanent ventilation in enclosed spaces, prioritize outdoor activities and not interrupt frequent hand washing. He also recalled that the use of the mask is mandatory for users who go to a health center with patient assistance, and that this protective measure continues to be recommended for people with respiratory symptoms, or who go to long-term care, high agglomeration places and in public or private collective transport.
“It is essential that people who have symptoms related to the disease wear a mask and are tested in a timely manner to confirm or rule out the diagnosis,” recalled the head of Epidemiology, who added that testing is a way a person can isolate quickly if it is infected and, therefore, cut the chain of transmission.
The expert from the Ministry of Health stressed that there is currently uncertainty in the epidemiological scenario both globally and in Chile, due to the significant increase in serious cases that has occurred in China in recent days and weeks.
Regarding the global epidemiological scenario, García explained that “this phenomenon is mainly produced by the subvariants of Ómicron BF.7 and BA5.2, in the context of a population with little previous exposure to SARS-CoV-2 and with relatively booster vaccination rates in the general population.
In this context, the head of Epidemiology highlighted that Chile is one of the countries with the highest booster vaccination coverage, with over 93% in the third dose and over 82% in the fourth dose in people over the age of 18 years, which has allowed Chile to maintain a low impact on health, i.e. a low number of hospital occupations but also a very low intensive care bed occupation compared to previous periods of the pandemic. However, he recalled that the authorities are vigilant and continue to implement measures to reduce the risks. Within these measures is the extension of the health alert for Covid-19 until March 31 and some requirements for travelers who have been to China in the last 7 days.
Furthermore, he reiterated the invitation to vaccinate the people he corresponds to with the bivalent dose, which protects against different variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and recalled that vaccination with booster doses is still in force for all those people who are to receive a new dose.
“The trials have shown us that the protection provided by the second booster or fourth dose remains high even beyond 6 months, so it is extremely important to complete the vaccination program that corresponds to us to be safe,” concluded García.