The Chilean government decided to impose new stricter lockdown measures as COVID-19 infections continue to increase rapidly across the South American nation and recording more than one million cases in total.
The tightened health restrictions were announced by Chilean Health Minister Enrique Paris after the country registered a new peak of COVID-19 infections.
On Thursday, health authorities reported 7,830 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, surpassing Chile’s previous record of 7,626 cases which it registered on March 26.
Despite being one of the countries that has the fastest COVID-19 inoculation campaign worldwide, the infection rate in Chile persisted to escalate due to more contagious variants of the disease.
“The new variants arriving in Chile are a great worry, and we effectively have one pandemic on top of another now,” said Dr. Ximena Aguilera, a member of Chile’s COVID-19 advisory team.
“Unlike before, we are seeing serious cases among younger people too, and there is a sense that some people had become complacent towards the end of the summer with the vaccinations going so well.”
In a press release, Paris announced that starting on April 5, Chile would close all of its borders for one month and would not accept all international commercial flights. Non-resident foreigners would also be banned from entering the country, with no exception of those individuals who had been authorized by the Chilean consulate in the country of origin based on health criteria issued by the ministry.
Both Chilean and resident foreigners would be prohibited to travel abroad for a month unless it is deemed urgent and would be done for humanitarian reasons, health treatment, or the proper functioning of the country.
The government also decided that the current curfew being implemented would be brought forward by an hour, thus ranging from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. of the following day.
Many commercial activities are also going to be prohibited and only a handful of businesses considered as essential would remain open.
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