Chile prolongs Santiago lockdown as daily virus deaths rise

Chile prolongs Santiago lockdown as daily virus deaths rise

Chile's government said Wednesday it was prolonging a three-week shutdown of the country's capital Santiago as the COVID-19 death toll reached a new daily record.

Health officials said 87 people had died in the previous 24 hours, and nearly 5,000 new infections were recorded.

The South American copper-exporting nation has now registered more than 113,000 infections and 1,275 deaths.

Health Minister Jaime Manalich confirmed the government was extending a three-week lockdown of the capital for another week.

The city is home to seven million of the country's 18 million population and produces half its GDP.

Manalich said the population's mobility had only been reduced by 30 percent, because of a large numbers of permits granted to those needed for essential activities.

"There are many permits," the minister said, warning that "for the quarantine to be effective, mobility needs to be reduced by at least 50 percent."

The minister appealed to people to minimize time spent outside of their homes to help reduce infections, especially in the coming weeks when emergency health services are expected to be operating at maximum capacity.

Already in Santiago, 97 percent of intensive care unit beds are occupied, while units in the rest of Chile report having reached 88 percent capacity.