The Chilean capital begins to obey a total lockout (containment) from this Saturday (20) to try to contain the increase in contamination, unprecedented since the peak of last June. Although Chile maintains daily immunization registers, its intensive care units have an occupancy rate of 95%.
Central Santiago, seven other municipalities in the capital’s metropolitan area, the coast of Viña del Mar or remote Iquique in the far north are examples of cities that go from lockdown only on weekends – started on March 13 – to a permanent and indefinite blockade.
In the metropolitan area of Santiago, where 7 million of Chile’s 19 million people live, the lockdown is total. Since August 2020, the capital has not seen similar measures.
The reason for the hardening is the growing number of contagions, over six thousand cases daily, bringing the occupancy rate of intensive care units to an average of 95% and leaving the country on the brink of health collapse.
Last Thursday (18), new cases reached 6,249 in 24 hours. Friday (19), the number rose to 6,604, very close to the record of 6,938 infected last June.
In the cumulative total, Chile has 918,053 cases, of which 36,433 are active. The death toll 22,087, including 99 in the past 24 hours.
“We are very concerned about this second wave. The measures are extremely harsh. The work of the health system has been gigantic. We have asked, with great humility, for a last effort”, launched the Chilean Minister of Health, Enrique Paris.
Record cases and record vaccines
Along with the tightening of the lockdown and in apparent contradiction, Chile remains on the podium of the countries that have applied the most vaccines and leads the ranking of those who vaccinate daily with 1.45 doses per 100 inhabitants, according to the organization Our World In Data, linked to the University of Oxford. Second, Israel, which inoculates 0.85 doses per 100 inhabitants. Brazil’s average is only 0.15.
Chile has already vaccinated 5.476 million people. The goal of vaccinating the entire population at risk was reached on Tuesday (16), two weeks in advance.
So far, 28.4% of Chileans have been vaccinated. On the next 24, the country begins to vaccinate the so-called “target population”: 80% of the total population by June to achieve collective immunity.
“We are not triumphalists over the vaccine, quite the contrary. To have a successful vaccination campaign, we must maintain health standards because the battle against the spread of the virus continues until June 30,” said the Minister Paris, aware of the relaxation that the advance of vaccination has caused in the population.
“The feeling of victory since the arrival of the first doses, a relaxation of movement restrictions and an exhaustion of the population in terms of protective measures have led to an increase in the number of cases and hospitalizations”, says Claudia, infectologist Chilean. RFI Cortés, vice-president of the Chilean Society of Infectious Diseases.
“There is no parallel between the increase in cases and a successful vaccination campaign”, explains the expert. “The vaccines work after completing the whole process: two doses and a few weeks of waiting after the second. The collective benefit will only come when at least 80% of the population is vaccinated, ”concludes Claudia Cortés.