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Chile’s health minister resigns as pandemic hits hard

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Chile's health minister resigned Saturday as the coronavirus pandemic is hitting the country hard despite a quarantine in place in the capital for more than a month.

The departure of Jaime Manalich was announced by President Sebastian Pinera.

The health crisis has claimed more than 3,000 lives in Chile. On Friday it set a record for new infections and deaths over a 24 hour period -- 6,754 and 222, respectively.

"The situation in our country continues to rise, above all in the metropolitan region," health ministry official Arturo Zuniga said Friday.

Infections have risen steadily in the South American copper giant despite the capital Santiago and its seven million people being placed on lockdown more than a month ago.

A worker checks the temperature of a customer, outside a supermarket in Valparaiso, which enters quarantine this night to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, on June 12, 2020. - Chile registered the worst daily figures so far in the current coronavirus pandemic on Friday, with 6,754 new infections in the last 24 hours and 222 more deaths, totaling up to now 2,870 fatalities, local authorities reported. (Photo by ADRIANA THOMASA CARBALLO / AFP)


On Friday, the government also put the cities of Valparaiso and Vina del Mar under mandatory quarantine, along with nearby rural towns.

The quarantine orders mean that nearly half of Chile's population of 18 million is under strict confinement.

As of Saturday Chile has reported 167,355 cases of infection and 3,101 deaths since March 3.


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