Chile Locks Down 20% of Population to Combat Second Virus Wave

Chile’s government said it will more than double the number of municipalities under strict coronavirus lockdowns in coming days to combat a resurgence in the pandemic.

The number of municipalities under full lockdown will increase to 42 from 18, Health Minister Enrique Paris said in a televised press conference on Monday. Roughly 3.9 million of a total population of 18 million will now be living under those restrictions, Paris said.

Chile Locks Down 20% of Population to Combat Second Virus Wave

Chile joins emerging-market peers from Colombia to Brazil in grappling with an intense second wave of the virus. Policy makers in the South American nation have won praise for securing enough vaccine contracts to inoculate the entire population. Still, only about 11,000 health workers have gotten the shot so far, while daily infections rise the most since June.

The increase in lockdowns will very likely “have an effect on economic indicators in the first quarter,” Sebastian Cerda, partner and economist at Econsult, said in an interview with Pauta Bloomberg radio.

None of the districts announced under full lockdown on Monday are in Santiago. Another 22 municipalities will be placed under stricter restrictions during weekends, including some districts in the capital.

Last week, Colombian authorities said they will put capital city Bogota under lockdown to help avoid a collapse in the city’s healthcare system. Cities in Brazil such as Belo Horizonte have also increased restrictions, though have avoided more drastic policies.

Chile’s number of daily virus infections nearly doubled to over 4,000 last week, according to government data. The surge has coincided with scrutiny over packed shopping malls and a flurry of arrests during clandestine holiday parties held in recent weeks.

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