On Tuesday, April 14, Chilean authorities announced the extension of border closures until Wednesday, April 22, due to the continuing spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Under the measure, foreign nationals may not enter the country except with a valid residency card. Chilean nationals are free to re-enter the country. The closure first entered into effect on Wednesday, March 18, but does not apply to cargo and associated personnel.
President Sebastian Piñera declared a state of catastrophe on Wednesday, March 18, in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The declaration entered into effect on Thursday, March 19, and will remain in place for 90 days. This will enable authorities to implement more restrictive measures progressively as the COVID-19 situation evolves. The government also announced a nationwide curfew on Sunday, March 22, between the hours of 22:00 and 05:00 (local time). Road checks operated by security services may be active in some regions of Santiago.
Certain neighborhoods (comunas) in Santiago will have their COVID-19 quarantine measures lifted as of Monday, April 13. The government initially announced quarantine measures on Monday, March 25, for the neighborhoods of Santiago Centro, Providencia, Ñuñoa, Las Condes, Vitacura, and Lo Barnechea. People in these areas were only allowed to leave their residences under certain circumstances, such as shopping for essential goods and for medical reasons. The measures were lifted in Lo Barnecha, Vitacura, and Providencia, as well as southern parts of Ñuñoa and Santiago Centro. Northern areas of Ñuñoa and Santiago Centro will continue to be under quarantine measures until Thursday, April 16, as will the whole of Los Condes. In addition, the western part of the Puente Alto neighborhood will be placed under quarantine on Thursday, April 9, until Thursday, April 16. As of April 10, a ban on public gatherings of more than 500 people remains in place.
The Ministry of Education announced on Wednesday, March 25, that school closures will be extended through the month of April. Though a precise date was not announced, schools are now expected to reopen in May.
As of Wednesday, April 15, Chile has recorded 7917 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 92 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.