© Reuters. Firefighters use a precautionary measure to disinfect a bus station during a preventive quarantine after the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Santiago
By Natalia A. Ramos Miranda
SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced on Friday that low-income families can delay paying household debt without fear of shutting down utilities to alleviate the economic problems caused by the spread of the coronavirus .
Pinera said three million Chilean families could benefit from the measures, agreed after talking to electricity, water and telecommunications companies.
The government has also applied for Congress approval for a "Covid-19 loan" of 50,000 Chilean pesos (USD 60) per dependent for the poorest families and a law protecting workers who cannot perform their duties while quarantined is introduced across the country.
The move is part of his center-right government's attempt to keep promises it made to better protect the poorest in the country after nearly five months of intense protests against social inequality and the high cost of living that started in October.
Pinera subsequently joined a vote on a new constitution to improve the hated private pension system, strengthen the minimum wage, combat white-collar crime, and reduce medication costs.
But the advent of the corona virus has further insulted the injury: global stock volatility has already wiped out millions of Chilean pension funds, queues have increased this week, and there is great concern about how creaking healthcare will deal with the case burden.
Last week, the government launched a new $ 11.7 billion economic bailout, equivalent to 4.7% of Chilean gross domestic product, in response to a general shutdown following the global corona virus outbreak.
In Chile, 1,610 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed. Shops, restaurants and cinemas have been closed, schools have been suspended and full quarantine has been applied this week to large parts of the capital city of Santiago and other areas across the country.
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