Chile has drawn attention in recent weeks to the rapid pace of application of doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. On March 8, the South American country surpassed Israel, the world leader in the total number of vaccinated relative to its population, in percentage of injections given per day – the average on Sunday (14) was 1.46 doses per 100 people , against 1.02.
The good performance of the vaccination has, however, been overshadowed by a dizzying increase in cases since the end of February. Between the 21 of this month and the last Sunday (14), the moving average of new cases jumped 51.9%. As of March 5, that number has exceeded 4,000 a day, reaching 5,046 this Sunday, according to data from Our World in Data.
The occupancy of intensive care units is also a matter of concern. According to iCovid Chile, an initiative of the Universidad de Chile, the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and the Universidad de Concepción which compiles the pandemic numbers in the country, the use of these beds was at the red level on March 9. , with an occupancy of 94%.
The situation prompted the government to tighten traffic restrictions. During a press conference on Monday (15), the Chilean Ministry of Health announced the return of 28 municipalities in the most difficult phase of the Paso a Paso plan, called quarantine – 9 of them are part of the Santiago metropolitan area. 8 others have returned to the transition phase.
The measures begin to take effect Thursday at 5 a.m. (18). According to the newspaper El Commercio, this means that, next weekend, 90% of the Chilean population will be confined.
In quarantine, face-to-face classes in public and private schools, the operation of pubs, nightclubs, gymnasiums and sports establishments, the presence of the public in restaurants and cafes and the sale of non-essential items in markets are prohibited. Workers in essential services who cannot do so remotely are issued a special travel permit.
Social gatherings are also prohibited in private homes and at events of any kind, with the exception of funerals, among other restrictions. There is also the establishment of a curfew between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and the release of outdoor activities (sport or walking) between 7 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.
In the transition phase, meetings of up to four people are now allowed, it is allowed to go to work, as long as it is not in a quarantined region, and sports in a group of 10 people maximum are allowed between 7 am and 8:30 am.
The curfew, on the other hand, remains in effect, as does the determination to stay home on weekends, and can only leave with permission granted online, once a week.
In both phases, the use of masks is determined and social distancing should be maintained when it is necessary to leave the house.
Announcing the new measures, Health Minister Enrique Paris said the increase in cases in recent days, after the summer break, was also seen in other countries. “For this reason, a March plan was devised to increase surveillance, prepare hospitals to increase the number of ICU beds, while emphasizing a prevention campaign, which is the most important.”
According to the Ministry of Health, last weekend 5,258 people were arrested during inspections carried out by the country. Most of them, 4,300, were for non-compliance with the article of criminal law which legislates on endangering public health by violating the rules of hygiene or sanitation in force during an epidemic. . Of the rest, 797 did not respect the curfew and 161 were detained for participating in underground parties.
The advance of the pandemic is also jeopardizing the holding of the April 11 elections, during which municipal councilors, mayors, regional governors and, above all, the constituent members who will rewrite the country’s Charter will be chosen.
Asked about a possible postponement due to the Covid-19 situation in the country, Paris said the decision was up to the legislature, the electoral service and the executive. “From a health point of view, what we did, like during the referendum, was to collaborate with Servel [Serviço Eleitoral] in the development of attendance protocols or compliance with health protocols during the vote, ”said the Minister of Health, according to the newspaper La Tercera.
“If the health protocols are respected during the vote, I think there will be no problem, just as there was no problem during the plebiscite, but it is not at the Ministry of Health to modify electoral or electoral regulations. “
Paris recognizes, however, that the current situation is different from that observed during the plebiscite which determined the modification of the Constitution, inherited from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, took place.
On October 25, the date of the vote, the country recorded a moving average of new cases of 1,472 – 70.8% less than the number recorded this Sunday (5,046). “Obviously, this worries us,” said the minister. “This is why we are calling on people to take care of themselves, to take the necessary precautions, to vote quietly. And I don’t think there will be any problems if we stick to health protocol.
Also on Monday, President Sebastián Piñera showed his confidence in the election by announcing new rules. A constitutional reform made it possible for the vote to take place in two days – previously, it should only take place in one day.
Thus, the Chileans will have April 10 and 11 to participate in the elections. “I am sure that with the support and collaboration of all, since we had an exemplary vaccination process, recognized and appreciated around the world, on Saturday April 10 and Sunday April 11, we will also have an exemplary election which honors our democratic tradition and is also recognized around the world, ”Piñera said.