Chile declares 90-day state of catastrophe over Covid-19 outbreak
Chile's president Sebastián Piñera has declared a state of catastrophe in the entire country amid a rapidly increasing number of cases of coronavirus (Covid-19).
The decree gives the government special powers to restrict transit, movement of people and gatherings to assure food supply and public services.
It is unclear at present if and how the measures could affect fruit exports from Chile or harvesting and packing operations, as the country gets into its autumn and winter export season. The country is in the middle of its table grape campaign, while citrus and kiwifruit exports are now getting underway.
The state of catastrophe will come into effect from midnight on Wednesday, Piñera said in a televised address from the La Moneda Palace.
The measures are to "aimed at...preparing ourselves to confront what lies ahead,” he said.
Chile on Wednesday had 238 confirmed cases of Covid-19, but no deaths have yet been reported. As of Tuesday, the country was reported to have the second-highest speed of transmission in the world.
The country has already closed schools and limited public gatherings, although it has not announced a total lockdown of the country similar to Italy and Spain.
On Tuesday, fruit growers' association Fedefruta said: "The main importing countries of our products still have their doors open for the entry of our fruit".