Health officials pleaded for people to stay indoors where possible.
“The new variants arriving in Chile are a great worry, and we effectively have one pandemic on top of another now,” said Dr Ximena Aguilera, an epidemiologist who sits on the government’s Covid-19 advisory committee.
“Unlike before, we are seeing serious cases among younger people too, and there is a sense that some people had become complacent towards the end of the summer with the vaccinations going so well.”
A total of 22,587 people have died in the country having contracted the virus, and both the British and Brazilian strains of the virus have been detected in Chile. Its cumulative death rate relative to population remains far below that of Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Argentina.