“The announcement was early”: Minister of Health responds to criticism of “slowness” in ordering a risk alert in the face of dense smoke from fires

With a intense layer of smoke woke up this Friday the Metropolitan Region (RM) due to the forest fires that affect the central area, specifically the regions of Valparaiso, Metropolitan and O’Higgins.

Due to the complex situation, the authorities decreed health risk alert in the Metropolitan Region. On the other hand, 14 communes of Santiago requested the suspension of classes due to the critical state of the air.

Regarding the alert, the president of the Environment Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, Daniel Melo (PS), criticized “slowness” in taking preventive measures due to poor air quality; while the mayor of Florida, Rudolf Carter, summoned -through his Twitter account- the Health authorities.

“Ministers cancel guidelines, hide and at 9:40, in a spokesperson that only confuses the public, the authorities say that they are “evaluating measures for the smoke from the forest fires. The emergency has been going on for 18 hours and they announce “diagnosis”. Put the alarm clock in La Moneda!”, critical.

During the afternoon, the Minister of Health, Ximena Aguilera, He addressed the questions about the reaction of the authorities and defended the steps taken. Consulted on Chilevisión’s Contigo en Directo program about criticism for the delay in issuing the risk alert, the Secretary of State assured that “the announcement was early”,

“You always have to welcome criticism”, but “this situation in the monitoring of air quality worsened in the morningThat is why, regardless of the fact that there was already a fire, it depends on how the smoke mist evolves.”.

In addition, he maintained that according to what he was informed, “at least in Onemi, and the regional ministerial secretary of the Metropolitan Region, which is the RM authority that was present at the evaluation (…), This situation of contamination from the increase in particulate material in some of the stations in the western sector of Santiago occurred early in the morning, which is why this situation was decreed this morning.”.

Along the same lines, he stressed that “it is important to report that this is a preventive alert, It is not that we are experiencing a situation in which there has been an increase in morbidity and mortality as a result of the smoke from the fire”.

As detailed by the RM Health Seremi, Gonzalo Soto, the Executive’s alert has as its main indication “the suspension of all physical activity in the region, particularly the physical activity that is done in educational establishments”.

During the afternoon, the National Emergency Office of the Ministry of the Interior and Public Security (Onemi), delivered a new balance regarding the fires.

According to the report that corresponds to 11:00 this morning, At the country level there are a total of 16 fires that are activewhile 47 are controlled and 2 have been extinguished.

Of the total assets, it was indicated, there are 9 with red alert at the country level, corresponding to fires in the communes of Quilpué, Catemu, Villa Alemana and Santo Domingo in the Valparaiso Region.

For his part, in the Metropolitan Region fires with red alert are recorded in the commune of Curacavi and San Pedroand in the Biobío Region in Birth, San Pedro de la Paz and Florida.

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