Chile declares two days of national mourning for Covid victims

Santiago, Aug 8 (EFE).- Chile’s president on Sunday declared two days of national mourning “in memory and tribute” to the more than 36,000 people who have succumbed to Covid-19 in the country to date.

Sebastián Piñera announced the mourning for Monday and Tuesday at a symbolic event in the central Plaza de la Ciudadania, in Santiago, where 460 lights were lit in memory of the victims while a member of the Carabineros police force led a minute of silence and the Chilean flag was placed at half mast.

“It is time to unite our hearts and wills to overcome this pandemic and be inspired by the testimony and example of those who did not make it,” Piñera said.

Present at the event were relatives of the Covid-19 victims and health officials representing the public, as well as Health Minister Enrique Paris, Public Health Undersecretary Paula Daza and Healthcare Networks Undersecretary Alberto Dougnac.

“We have had an emotional meeting with a group of the family members of the victims of this pandemic, and together with them we have remembered their loved ones (…) In addition to remembering, we want to pay a heartfelt tribute to each of the victims,” ??the president said.

“We want to say that no one is alone in their pain, that our thoughts and prayers are with each of you,” he added.

Piñera also dedicated a few words to healthcare workers “who gave their lives” to protect others.

“There is no greater gesture of love,” he said.

Chile confirmed its first Covid-19 case on Mar. 3, 2020 and reported its first death — of an 82-year-old woman — on Mar. 21, 2020.

Sixty-five deaths linked to Covid-19 were recorded in the last 24 hours, taking the total number to 36,016.

The total infections since the start of the pandemic reached 1,623,363, of which 6,379 are still active, the lowest number in more than a year.

The epidemic has subsided after a severe second wave from March to July that put hospitals under strain, and the country is partially returning to normal after a long period of restrictions.

The main reason for this improvement is the vaccination program carried out in the country, where more than 82 percent of the target population – comprising of over 15 million people out of a total of some 19 million – have been vaccinated.

Most people were inoculated with the Chinese vaccine Sinovac, while the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, jointly developed by Germany and the United States, China’s CanSino and the British-Swedish Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine have also been administered to a lesser extent.

Last week, the government announced that it will launch a booster dose program on Aug. 11 with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for all people over the age of 55 already fully vaccinated with Sinovac.

Despite the sustained improvement, the country’s borders have remained closed to foreign nationals since April and a curfew between 12 am and 5 am has been imposed in most parts of the country to prevent the spread of new variants. EFE


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