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LATIN AMERICA | 29-04-2020 19:01

Chile says Covid-19 patient card not an 'immunity pass'

Debate has swirled about the use of "immunity passports" seen as a possible tool for countries preparing to get people back to work after weeks of economic shutdown.

Chile on Wednesday ratified a plan to dispense release cards to recovered Covid-19 patients, but rowed back from an earlier idea they would effectively be an "immunity passport."

Health Minister Jaime Manalich first announced the move on April 9, saying recovered patients could be of enormous help to the workforce because they would now be immune.

However, the WHO warned on Saturday that people who test positive and survive infection cannot be certain they will not be hit again by the coronavirus.

The revised Covid-19 card does not certify immunity, Manalich said.

"It is a discharge card that says that the person who has already overcome the disease, without ruling on immunity," the minister told a press conference in Santiago.

Debate has swirled about the use of "immunity passports" seen as a possible tool for countries preparing to get people back to work after weeks of economic shutdown.

Chile reported that 8,057 people had recovered from the virus, or 53 percent of the 14,885 infected.

They are to begin receiving release cards next week, delivered in person or over mobile devices, Manalich said.

The minister had told reporters on April 9 that people who had survived Covid-19 would be immune "and therefore that person can be of enormous help to the communities, because they do not represent a risk."

Authorities also reported Wednesday the country's first health worker death from the disease, an official at a family health centre in Gorbea in southern Chile. 

A total of 216 people have died so far.

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