Santiago, Jan 27 (EFE).- The coronavirus pandemic and the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the virus are pushing newly detected Covid-19 cases in Chile far above government forecasts, with 24,037 new cases being tallied on Thursday, more than double the figure Santiago had expected.
The capital metro area, where eight million of Chile’s 19 million citizens live, registered 9,252 new cases, the largest daily figure for the pandemic so far.
The coastal region of Valparaiso also set a new record with 2,451 new cases, and the national positive test rate came in at 18.8 percent, the highest figure since July 8, 2020, when it hit 19.7 percent.
The regions with the greatest positive test rates over the past week have been Tarapaca, Antofagasta and Coquimbo in the north and Magallenes in the south, according to the report.
The official Covid death toll since the start of the pandemic in early 2020 stands at 39,594, while 2.04 million people have been infected with the coronavirus, of whom 76,778 are considered to be active cases, meaning that they can transmit the virus.
The pressure on hospitals, however, remains relatively low with just 423 patients in intensive care units, although some laboratories have been overwhelmed, with hundreds of people standing in line to get PCR tests.
Despite the explosive increase in cases, the government is not planning to implement new lockdowns but rather to reduce the allowed attendance capacity at public and private venues in the most-affected regions and to push for greater vaccination among the public.
In addition, recently the government announced that it was reducing from 10 days to seven the obligatory quarantine period for people testing positive for Covid-19 given the evidence that the infections due to Omicron are less serious and last a shorter time than those resulting from earlier variants of the coronavirus.
Chile has implemented one of the world’s most effective vaccination campaigns and has now fully vaccinated more than 92 percent of its population, including children, as well as already having administered more than 12.3 million booster shots.
Immune-compromised people and healthcare workers began receiving fourth vaccine doses two weeks ago, and in February people 55 and over also will begin receiving second booster shots for a total of four jabs.