Chile’s Ministry of Health on Thursday announced the Metropolitan Region, where the capital is located, and other areas will enter lockdown on Saturday, March 27, as Holy Week approaches amid a rise in cases of the novel coronavirus disease.
Lockdown restrictions on mobility and gatherings will impact nearly 16 million people, with exceptions made for essential workers.
According to official figures, tests detected 7,023 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, while 122 more people died of the disease in the same period, raising the caseload to 954,762 and the death toll to 22,524.
“We are seeing a worrying situation and we are concerned as a government, and that is why we are asking Chile’s inhabitants to also share this concern. We are all part of the country, we all have responsibilities to fulfill regarding the pandemic,” Health Minister Enrique Paris said at a press conference.
Chile is battling new outbreaks of the virus as the austral summer holidays come to an end and the school year begins with planned in-person classes.
In addition, health authorities have detected 64 cases of the variant of the virus first detected in Britain and 45 cases of the strain first found in Brazil, which they believe entered the country via Santiago’s airport, the only one accepting international flights.
These findings motivated the government to declare a mandatory five-day quarantine in a hotel for all arriving passengers as of March 31, as well as a PCR test to check for COVID-19, with the costs covered by the passengers themselves, according to presidential spokesman Jaime Bellolio.