Chile to close borders, ratchet up controls in April as COVID-19 cases soar

Chile to close borders, ratchet up controls in April as COVID-19 cases soar

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Santiago
A man pushes trolleys as the country opens its air border amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the International Airport of Santiago, Chile, on Nov 23, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado)

SANTIAGO: Chile will close its borders for the month of April to slow the spread of the coronavirus and stop the influx of its variants, health officials said on Thursday (Apr 1), as cases continue to soar despite one of the world's fastest vaccination rates.

Chile has already inoculated more than 35 per cent of its population, according to a Reuters tally, but cases have nonetheless spiked in recent weeks following the Southern Hemisphere summer holidays.

On Thursday, the country reported 7,830 cases of the virus, its highest single-day tally since the pandemic began in March 2020. The soaring caseload has prompted health authorities to place much of the country under lockdown to ease pressure on urgent care wards.

Officials said they would close the South American country's border beginning on Apr 5 to both Chileans and foreign residents of the country, with exceptions only in emergencies. No foreign tourists will be allowed into the country.

Authorities also ratcheted up restrictions on movement for those already in Chile, limiting circulation permits to a small group of essential workers - primarily supermarket and medical staff - and restricting authorisations for individuals to leave their homes.

Chile has tallied more than 1 million cases of the virus since the pandemic struck last year.

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Source: Reuters