The small Chilean beach enclave of Zapallar has turned to high-tech drones to deliver medications, masks and hand sanitizer to its elderly in remote areas as the coronavirus continues its advance across the largely rural South American nation.

A heavy-duty four-propeller drone, complete with landing gear, is loaded with a bag of supplies in the city center then blasts off across the parched, hilly landscape to reach areas that are as much as a two-hour walk from the nearest pharmacy.

How is Chile faring during coronavirus lockdown?

Chile has confirmed more than 10,000 cases of coronavirus in the nearly two months since the outbreak began. The country has placed strict limits on visits to nursing homes and implemented a system of selective, regional quarantines to isolate those who are sick.

How helpful are the drone deliveries?

Zapallar has yet to report a case of coronavirus. But its pilot drone program is designed to keep the elderly and poor, many who lack transportation, out of harm’s way, Mayor Gustavo Alessandri said. It could also help supply families in quarantine, should the outbreak hit closer to home. The drones are remotely controlled by municipal workers.


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