Around half of Chile’ s 50-member senate and four ministers have been placed in quarantine after coming into contact with at least three colleagues infected with the novel coronavirus , officials said Monday , as jobless protesters in a poor area of Santiago clashed with police to demand food aid .
Finance Minister Ignacio Briones and Chief of Staff Felipe Ward both wrote on
Twitter that they had tested negative for the virus but were in quarantine until a second test is conducted .
Briones said he was tested on Friday, due to his “ regular contact with” infected senator Jorge Pizarro on the Senate finance committee, and has since begun “preventative quarantine . ”
The ministers of the interior and social development are also in isolation .
At the end of last week , around 20 legislators began isolation after meeting with Pizarro and another infected senator .
Last Wednesday, Chile recorded a 60 percent spike in daily coronavirus cases despite a month and a half of preventative measures , including a selective lockdown .
Last week , the government imposed a total lockdown on the capital Santiago, which has recorded more than 80 percent of the country’ s 46, 000 cases .
There had also been 478 deaths as of Monday .
Violence broke out Monday in El Bosque , a crowded , poor area on the outskirts of Santiago , as angry people wielding sticks erected barricades and threw rocks at riot police , who fought back with tear gas and water cannon.
“ It is not because of the quarantine . It is aid, food , what people are asking for right now , ” Veronica Abarca , who lives in El Bosque .
The protests came one day after the government of President Sebastian Pinera said it would distribute 2 . 5 million packages of food to the poorest people in Chile.
Last month , the government said it would hand out vouchers worth around $ 300 each to some 4 . 5 million low-income people , but the money was never distributed .
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