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, as cases continue to soar despite one of the world’s fastest vaccination rates.
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Chile has already inoculated more than 35% 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 April 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 authorizations for individuals to leave their homes.
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Chile has tallied more than 1 million cases of the virus since the pandemic struck last year.
Reporting by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Franklin Paul and Jonathan Oatis