Chile nearly doubled its coronavirus death toll Saturday to more than 7,000 under a new tallying method that includes probable fatalities from COVID-19.
The toll thus increased by 3,069, Rafael Araos of the heath ministry said as he revealed officially the new government counting methodology.
The revelation of this tallying method last week by CIPER, an investigative news organization, prompted the resignation of health minister Jaime Manalich.
Araos’ announcement was meant to end weeks of controversy over the death toll numbers being released by the government.
News media had reported that more people were dying than were in the official tally and that the government used a parallel system of accounting for the World Health Organization (WHO).
As of Saturday the death toll from confirmed coronavirus cases in the South American country was 4,075. Including suspected cases it is 7,144.
Going forward, the government will release a daily tally of confirmed cases and then a weekly total on Friday that includes suspected cases, said Araos.
Infections have risen steadily in Chile even though it began taking emergency measures in February — including widespread testing and the closure of borders and schools — that made it one of the first Latin American countries to do so.
The capital Santiago and its seven million people were placed under lockdown more than a month ago, followed recently by the cities of Valparaiso and Vina del Mar.