Chile in red in the face of the pandemic: experts warn of increases in all regions

The ICOVID Chile team, an initiative led by the University of Chile , the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and the University of Concepción , presented its report number 23 with analysis and data on the dimensions proposed to monitor the pandemic in the country , with information obtained until Saturday , January 9, 2021 , provided through an agreement with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation .

In the week between January 2 and 9, there is a 29% increase in the number of new cases nationwide, going from 15.5 to 19.9 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants . This situation worsens when comparing this period with the first week of December, with a 143% growth in the weekly number of new cases.

In several regions even greater increases are seen in the last week: 79% in Antofagasta; 78% in Arica; 76% in Los Ríos; 71% in Aysén and 64% in Los Lagos. Given this situation, the experts from ICOVID Chile point out that  “no regions were observed with a significant decrease in the weekly number of new cases. All regions have a disease burden in red values, which means that the spread of the disease is in a critical situation and increasing ”.

The transmission index (R) at the national level has remained above 1 and increasing in the last four weeks (1.17 in the first week of January), while the regions of Arica, Tarapacá, Antofagasta, Atacama, Coquimbo, Valparaíso, O’Higgins, Los Ríos, Los Lagos and Aysén increased their reproduction index in the last four weeks and maintain values ​​higher than the national one, which implies that in these regions each sick person infects, on average, more than one person .

Faced with this situation, the epidemiologist and head of the Medicine career at the University of Concepción, Ana María Moraga, made a call to continue with the measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. “Starting the summer season and considering the critical national situation and in all regions, it is very important that everyone, authorities and citizens, can assume responsibility for self-care and for the care of those around us in a responsible manner, especially a call young people to put all their energy into caring for their families and their environment ” .

In the week analyzed, 16.3 tests per thousand inhabitants were carried out nationwide, resuming growth after the decrease due to the effect of the end of the year holidays. However, the positivity at the national level is 8.8%, which represents an increase of 70% compared to the figures observed in mid-December . All regions show increases in their positivity,  “especially worrying are Tarapacá, La Araucanía, Los Ríos and Magallanes due to their high values, as well as Arica and Antofagasta due to the pronounced increase in the last two weeks” , the report details.

In this regard, Jorge Pérez, researcher from the Millennium Institute for Research in Data Fundamentals and an academic from the University of Chile, pointed out that  “although positivity also increased on previous holidays (September 18 and October 12), this rise was explained by the drop in tests and did not extend for more than a week. We have been more than 10 days since the last holiday and the number of tests has already recovered, so we could be in the presence of a real increase in positivity that cannot be explained by recent holidays ” .

In terms of traceability,  the report indicates that the three indicators analyzed by ICOVID do not show significant improvements since October, which is extremely worrying given the rise in all the others (load, positivity and hospital occupancy) . In particular, it is worrying that at the national level only 54.2% of the samples take less than 24 hours to be processed and reported to the health authority, which represents a decrease compared to the 61.1% observed in the first three weeks of December.

On the other hand, the early consultation indicator, which accounts for the proportion of people who consulted within the first two days since COVID-19 symptoms began, has remained with values ​​between 50% and 60% since the beginning of October with a very slow upward trend in the last 3 months, but far from the 80% necessary for this strategy to help control the pandemic (green).

Finally, the indicator of early confirmation of cases, composition of the two previous indicators, which is defined as the proportion of suspected symptomatic persons whose result of the PCR test is reported to the health authority within three days from the date of onset of symptoms, For logistical reasons it is delayed, so the latest available values ​​are for mid-December. This shows that at the national level the trend is of stability below 50%, without showing significant changes since the beginning of October.

Hospital capacity and suspension of elective surgeries

With respect to the dimension of hospital capacity, this latest report revealed that all associated indicators show a sustained and progressive increase in the last two weeks . In this regard, Héctor Ramírez, academic and principal investigator of the Center for Mathematical Modeling of the University of Chile, stressed  “this sustained growth could produce an increase in the coming weeks in the occupation of ICU beds by COVID patients. This shows a delicate situation that justifies the authority’s decision to suspend elective surgeries , ”he explained.

As detailed in the report,  nationwide there is a high occupancy of ICU beds, with an average of 89% in the week analyzed (January 3 to 9, 2021), in red . This indicator grew steadily, from 86 to 92%, in that week. As of January 12, this overload remains (91%), leaving the integrated critical bed system with only 182 beds available nationwide.

Meanwhile,  the average use of ICU beds by COVID patients nationwide is 39% in the week analyzed, which represents an increase of 15% compared to the previous week (33.9%). This indicator also shows growth during this week (from 36% to 42%) . As of January 12, this value even increased to 45%. While the weekly variation rate in hospitalizations for COVID-19, which measures the trend in hospital demand for positive patients, continues to grow and remains with values ​​over 10% in the last 10 days, confirming the negative trend of the previous weeks .

More information about data and the full report at:  http://www.icovidchile.cl/

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