Announcing the new package, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said the fresh round of stimulus will bailout at least 1 million families suffering from the impacts Covid-19.

Nurses at the Critical Patients Unit check the intubation of a patient infected with Covid-19 at Barros Luco Hospital, in Santiago, on June 24, 2020.
Nurses at the Critical Patients Unit check the intubation of a patient infected with Covid-19 at Barros Luco Hospital, in Santiago, on June 24, 2020. (AFP)

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced on Sunday a new $1.5 billion package of measures to help keep the country's ailing middle class afloat as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the economy of the world's top copper producer.

The measures include access to zero-interest loans, subsidized rent and the ability to defer mortgage loan payments for up to six months, Pinera said in a televised speech.

"The coronavirus pandemic...is hitting our middle class hard," Pinera said, touting the fresh round of stimulus as a bailout at least 1 million families.

READ MORE: Chile health minister resigns amid row over virus deaths

Pandemic hammers economy

Pinera's centre-right administration has already announced two sprawling stimulus packages worth nearly 12 percent of gross domestic product, aimed primarily at protecting small business, the poor and the unemployed.

The coronavirus pandemic, which struck just as Chile was beginning to recover from months of unrest over inequality, has hammered the country's economy. Chile's middle class - long the envy of the region- has been especially hard hit.

Rising unemployment

Unemployment crested 11 percent between March and May and is expected to continue to rise as lockdown measures in the capital Santiago take their toll.

The central bank has predicted GDP will plunge by as much as 7.5 percent in 2020, the worst in 35 years.

The new plan will help subsidize university payments for middle-class families and partially underwrite the home or apartment rental fees for those who pay less than 400,000 pesos, or $500 per month.

Chile has reported more than 295,000 cases of coronavirus, surpassing the tally in crisis-racked Italy, and 6,308 deaths from the disease.

Source: Reuters