Chile's Congress Monday passed a bill granting economic assistance to people in need and whose situation has worsened over the past few months due to the covid-19 crisis.
The aid package consists of a 500,000 Chilean pesos (approximately 693 dollars) bonus for workers who have salaries up to 1.5 million Chilean pesos (almost 2,079 dollars) since 2019. The aid will decrease gradually for those making a higher income.
The new measures were announced the same day the toughest measures ever began to take effect, with the closure for a month of Santiago's international airport, the one-hour increase to the curfew from 10 pm to 9 pm the confinement under quarantine of more than 16 million people out of a total population of 18 million.
Pensioners and people on disability subsidies are also to receive US $ 140 additional assistance while the so-called Emergency Family Income (IFE) is increased by 20 per cent for citizens who are under lockdown in phases one or two.
Despite a strong vaccination campaign, Chile reported a total of 1,032,612 infections Monday and 23,677 overall due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which, with over new 8,000 daily cases, has also led to the postponement of the April 11-12 elections until May 15 and 16. Health authorities reported that by Monday 6,940,748 people had received the first dose of the vaccine, while 3,846,294 completed the two doses.
Meanwhile, President Sebastián Piñera denied claims by health experts that his government had eased down on its sanitary efforts, and spoke of a regrowth, a re-attack of the coronavirus throughout the world.”
“It is not something that only happens in Chile,” Piñera insisted. “We all know that new variants have emerged, new mutations of the virus, many of them are more contagious and cause more risks to the health of compatriots and the inhabitants of the whole world.
The president maintained that since the beginning of the epidemic what the Government has done is to work without rest, without pause, with a sense of team, with a sense of urgency and listed the strengthening of the health system, the purchase of ventilators, the increase in critical beds, establish quarantines and restrictions on mobility, protect our borders, initiate a mass and rapid vaccination process that has been recognized throughout the world.
He added that, however, the virus in front of us is a pandemic that is hitting the whole world. That is why I want to say that, without a doubt, many factors explain what is happening to us.
For this reason, I limit, in terms of success, I believe that we have never underestimated this pandemic and insisted that we have always done what is humanly possible to protect people's health and lives.