Chile’s Capital Begins Strict Quarantine Measures Over Resurgence of COVID-19 Cases

Chile’s capital, Santiago has begun a strict quarantine after a sharp resurgence of coronavirus cases.

With near-deserted streets and police checks, normal activity in the capital was down 85 percent.

According to the government, the seven million people were only allowed to leave their homes for essential food and medicine and a short period of exercise.

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“Blocks and blocks of the city are completely empty and we can take it that this is a good start,” Health Minister Jaime Manalich told reporters at Santiago airport after a fly-over of the city.

There were long lines of cars which caused gridlock on Friday evening as people streamed out of the capital for the coast, 100 kilometers (60 miles) away, hours before the lockdown came into force at 10:00 pm (0200 GMT).

With the lockdown order announced by Manalich on Wednesday, the earlier hopes that the South American country could reopen its economy have been dashed following evidence it had flattened the curve.

It was reported that new infections had reduced to between 350 and 500 a day in late May. This made the government of conservative President Sebastian Pinera to relax some restrictions and allowing businesses and stores to reopen.

However, due to new cases doubling in the past 10 days, having remained below 1,000 a day last month, the daily average has now shot up to over 2,000 new infections a day.

Chile as of today has 41,428 cases with 421 deaths. 27 deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours, with Santiago recording 80 percent of the country’s cases.

There is also concerns that the country’s emergency services were already operating near their limit.

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“We have kept the case fatality rate close to 1 percent, but when we see a greater number of people infected, obviously the number of deaths also increases,” said Arturo Zuniga, a health ministry official with responsibility for care networks.

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