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LatinNews Daily - 03 June 2021

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CHILE: Country battles surge in Covid-19 cases

On 2 June, Chile’s health ministry published its latest epidemiological report, which revealed that the number of active coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in the Santiago Metropolitan Region (RM) has reached a new high for the year, matching levels last seen during the first wave in June 2020.

Analysis:

Chile is facing another surge in Covid-19 infections despite having one of the most successful vaccine rollouts in the world. New daily cases have been climbing again, although daily deaths remain well below the levels seen during the first wave in June-July last year, raising questions over what is driving this surge given the country’s high vaccination rate. To date, 42.3% of the population has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, which places Chile within the top five most vaccinated countries globally.

  • Chile’s health ministry recorded 5,631 new cases nationally yesterday, of which 2,827 are in the RM, bringing the cumulative total nationally to 1.39m. According to the epidemiological report, there are now 25,712 active cases of Covid-19 in the RM, which is the highest figure this year so far. There are reports that the hospital system is reaching capacity, with just 35 intensive care beds said to be available in the RM and 147 at national level.
  • This comes as health experts continue to question the government led by President Sebastián Piñera’s easing of restrictions for fully vaccinated people. As of 26 May, fully vaccinated individuals have been able to download a 'Pase de Movilidad' (‘mobility pass'), which allows greater freedom of movement within Chile.
  • Last week, nine medical societies released a statement criticising the move, saying that “we urgently need to reformulate the Paso a Paso [reopening] plan” and that “any increase in mobility is going to generate greater contagion, which the health system cannot withstand”.
  • President Piñera yesterday defended the implementation of the mobility pass in a television interview, stating that “a panel of experts recommended the implementation”.

Looking Ahead: Piñera did not rule out the possibility of tightening restrictions and withdrawing the mobility pass if necessary, saying last night that “as always, we are ready to re-evaluate everything in accordance with the data and the evolution of the pandemic”.