Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera delivers a speech in Santiago, Chile, in this Jan 29, 2020 file photo.  [Photo/Agencies]

SANTIAGO – Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced on Sunday that the vaccination program against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) will begin next week, with 585,545 total cases having been reported to date.

“We hope to start the vaccination process next week, and we are going to start with the people who have been on the front lines in critical units caring for critical patients,” the president said, adding that “we are going to continue with the elderly, the chronically ill, the people who are deployed fighting COVID-19.”

The Chilean Ministry of Health reported 2,191 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. According to the Department of Statistics and Health Information (DEIS), in the last 24 hours, another 53 deaths were reported, bringing the death toll to 16,154.

The Chilean government stated on Thursday that it will have more than 30 million vaccines to combat the virus in 2021, with the initial vaccination period utilizing 20,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

In order to decrease the accumulated incidence rate per 100,000 inhabitants in the Metropolitan region, restrictions on movement and gatherings were extended to apply on weekends, with the measures expected to last until New Year.