Latin American nation Chile has recorded a 21 percent rise in COVID-19 infections over the last two weeks. The surge in fresh cases comes despite the fact that 52 percent of the country's target population has been fully immunised.
The government has urged Chileans to get vaccinated and follow health protocols to prevent the spread of the virus.
Chile's Health Minister Enrique Paris, in a message to the nation, said, "We're going through a critical moment of the pandemic… I urge you to take care of yourselves, of your loved ones, of your families."
He added that 80 percent of the new cases are those who have not received both doses of the vaccine.
Numbers say it all
According to Chile's Ministry of Health, the country recorded 7,772 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday (May 30) and 6,839 infections on Monday (May 31). The prosperous nation, which has a population of 19 million, registered its highest single-day spike in COVID-19 cases on April 9 this year with infections climbing above 9,000 for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic.
The increase in daily COVID-19 infections has surprised many as the country has managed to turn its vaccination drive into a success. According to an Oxford University report titled "Our World in Data", Chile has a vaccination rate of 38.94 per 100 people, only behind Israel (61.58) and the United Kingdom (47.51).
Why are the numbers swelling then?
While the government hasn’t elaborated on the factors driving the sharp uptick in COVID-19 infections in the country, health watchers say that Chile “loosened Coronavirus restrictions too fast”.
In a bid to boost its economy, Chile not only allowed restaurants, shops and holiday resorts to open up but also let international tourists into the country.
The rise in gatherings during Christmas and New Year is also said to be responsible for the spread.
The efficacy of vaccine shots has also come under the lens. A study published by the University of Chile earlier this month reported that CoronaVac (COVID vaccine) was 56.5 percent effective two weeks after the second dose was administered. The report, however, added that one dose of the vaccine was only 3 percent effective.
Vaccination not enough, follow protocols
According to a CNN report, Mr Paris clarified that while some measures were definitely relaxed in December, people still had to follow preventive measures. He was quoted as saying, "We never said vaccination was going to be the only answer. We have to vaccinate, but we also have to remain mindful of other things like reduced mobility, wearing masks, washing our hands and social distancing so that the virus doesn't get disseminated."