SalmonChile bolsters coronavirus response with USD 2 million fund

Published on
April 10, 2020

Chile’s salmon industry association SalmonChile announced the creation of a solidarity fund of up to CLP 2 billion (USD 2.3 million, EUR 2.2 million) to directly benefit those communities being affected by COVID-19 in the regions of La Araucanía, Los Lagos, and Aysén, which is where the association’s members operate.

In addition to creating this solidarity fund to which industry members are contributing, SalmonChile highlighted the firms’ additional health measures implemented to address the crisis, including nearly halving production capacity, making work shifts more flexible to reduce contact between workers, supporting authorities in strengthening sanitary barriers in Chiloé and Aysén, and voluntarily sanitizing public spaces in the towns in which they operate.

With respect in particular to the fjord-dotted region of Aysén, which has issues of infrastructure connectivity and lack of public health facilities, SalmonChile-associated companies have agreed to strict measures in terms of operations and addressing the COVID-19 threat. According to a separate SalmonChile release, companies have agreed to transport employees into and out of the region solely by maritime transport. Land transport may be used exclusively for workers who reside in the region. Air evacuation may be carried out only in case of emergency, following coordination and authorization from the Aysén health authorities.

The industry association had previously announced that 10 of its members’ laboratories could be used to analyze up to 5,000 coronavirus tests a day. The technique used to test COVID-19 is the same used in salmon farming, called PCR, which is performed in various laboratories in the industry. The laboratories are to be validated by health authorities and could perform the analysis in Chiloé, Puerto Montt, and Aysén as these are the areas where the industry operates.

"It is important to see how the system works and, together with the authorities, to increase the number of analyses that are carried out. We have the experience and know-how," SalmonChile’s Esteban Ramírez, manager of the Salmon Technological Institute (Intesal), which is coordinating the initiative, said.

There are human resources available that could keep the laboratories running 24 hours a day and effectively double the amount of tests analyzed, he added.

Photo courtesy of SalmonChile

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