In the wake of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, Chile is set to lift lockdowns in 13 towns on Monday. Health Minister Enrique Paris emphasized on the Step-by-Step Plan (determines lockdowns and restrictions) while the Ministry continues to gradually ease pandemic restrictions across Chile despite detecting more than 7,600 fresh COVID-19 infection cases in a day.
Chile Minister Paris at a press conference said, "the Step-by-Step Plan is under constant review and meetings are held every Monday and Thursday. We base ourselves on evidence and take into account various factors in decision-making."
Among the towns currently under lockdown, three are located within the Metropolitan region, home to the capital Santiago. Three localities will advance to phase 2, which means lockdown measures will be in force only on weekends, and restaurants and recreational centres will be able to operate from Monday to Friday but obviously not at full capacity.
Chile has registered 1,308,311 confirmed COVID-19 cases since March 2020. In the past 24 hours, 7,680 new cases were reported, the highest daily count since April 30 while 172 fresh deaths were reported. The death toll of the country stands at 28,169 and 1,241,426 COVID-19 patients have recuperated from the virus.
Paris said, "We are extremely concerned and we want to transmit that concern to society because it is necessary to reverse the situation and take care of ourselves much more. We must maintain a fair balance between legitimate and desired freedoms and our responsibilties which oblige us to take care of ourselves and others. We cannot lower our guard."
Most vaccinated Chileans have received a single dose, meaning they are still largely unprotected from infection. A study published by researchers at the University of Chile found that the CoronaVac vaccine was 56.5% effective in preventing infections two weeks after a second dose but only 3% effective after a single dose. Some 93% of the doses administered were the CoronaVac vaccine, manufactured by Chinese state-run pharmaceutical Sinovac, and 7% the more effective Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. Chile’s CoronaVac study results are comparable to previous CoronaVac trials elsewhere.