Chile closes borders for April as Covid cases rise

Police officers on patrol as passengers who just landed wait to be transfered to designated facilities to comply with a ten-day quarantine -- Chile closed its borders Monday amid a surge in COVID-19 cases
Police officers on patrol as passengers who just landed wait to be transfered to designated facilities to comply with a ten-day quarantine -- Chile closed its borders Monday amid a surge in COVID-19 cases Martin BERNETTI AFP
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Santiago (AFP)

Chile said Thursday it would close its borders for the month of April to try and deal with a rise in coronavirus cases as it seeks to speed up its vaccination campaign.

The measure, starting next Monday, was announced by the government as Chile recorded its highest daily infection rate of 7,830 since the pandemic began.

The country passed the mark of one million reported infections (1,003,406 in total), with 23,328 deaths recorded since March last year -- 193 in the last 24 hours.

The country's intensive care units are 95 percent full.

"We urgently need to make an additional effort, because we are in a very critical moment of the pandemic," government spokesman Jaime Bellolio said.

So far, seven million of Chile's 19 million people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. Twenty-four percent of the population has received the two doses required for immunity.

Public health experts say the relative success of Chile's innoculation campaign may be giving people a false sense of security at the same time as schools, gyms and casinos have reopened, putting people into closer proximity to one another.

The government aims to vaccinate 80 percent of its population by the end of June.

On top of the border closure, the government also announced it would advance the daily curfew by an hour from 10:00 pm to 9:00 pm, and limiting some activities previously considered essential.