As announced last week, Chile is opening its borders as of July 26 to nationals and foreign residents stranded abroad since March on the condition that they are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
However, local health officials have been voicing their concerns regarding what the new measures may entials in terms of new variants of the Sars-CoV-2 landing in the country after months of harsh sanitary measures.
Experts have insisted on the importance of tracing the whereabouts of the incoming travelers as well as other steps which the reopening of the borders may involve, such as the mobility pass.
Entrance into the country is to be allowed only through Santiago's Arturo Merino Benítez international airport.
Álvaro Erazo, a former health minister under President Michelle Bachelet -a medical doctor herself- warned that border control is essential to combat the new variants.
Those entering the country must sign an affidavit 48 hours before boarding their planes. Te document, together with a negative PCR test from 72 hours at most, prior to taking their flights, are to be required by airlines and health authorities alike.
Infectologist Guillermo Acuña has pointed out that waiting at the crowded airports can be a problem, while lung-diseases specialist Carolina Herrera made it clear that beyond individual responsibility, the pandemic has not ended.
Claudia Saavedra, a medical doctor and spokesperson for Chile's Society of Microbiology, insisted on tracing those who enter the country.
Meanwhile, residents of Santiago have enjoyed their first restriction-free weekend since March thanks to the significant reduction in infections, which led authorities to ease the limitations on activities and circulation, with bars, movie theaters and other recreational facilities reopening their doors since Saturday, not only in the Chilean capital but also in 51 other communes in the Metropolitan Region.
Three months after the serious second wave of infections that affected the country, Chile has recovered and currently has the lowest coronavirus positivity rate.
Nevertheless, Chile is studying the possibility of applying a third dose of coronavirus vaccine. Over 85% of the target population has already received at least one dose, while 78% have completed their two-shot schedule, which has resulted in a reduction in the number of patients admitted into intensive care units.
In addition to allowing the return of travelers, the Chilean Government will also authorize the departure of those who wish to leave, but they will have to observe a mandatory 10-day isolation at their homes upon returning.