On the day Argentina recorded a record of daily contamination with the coronavirus – 22,039 cases in 24 hours – President Alberto Fernández, who is infected, announced the implementation of new health measures.
The country has already passed the 56,000 death mark, according to data from Johns Hopkins University (USA).
In the garden of the Residência de Olivos, where he is isolated and with mild symptoms, Fernández confirmed what was already said by epidemiologists: Argentina is facing the second wave of the pandemic.
In recent weeks, some of the newer variants of the virus have been detected, such as the one from Manaus and the one from the UK. “In the past seven days alone, cases have increased 36% nationwide and 53% in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area,” he said.
The increase in the occupancy rate of intensive care beds, which averages 70%, has alarmed doctors and scientists, who have asked the president for a policy of containment. The opposition to Fernández, represented by PRO (Republican Proposal), by ex-president Mauricio Macri, is against the idea of a new lockout, like last year.
In tense meetings since Monday (5), national authorities, governors and mayors have reached few agreements. The decree of necessity and urgency announced by the president suspends the activity of bars and restaurants between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Only essential workers can travel between midnight and 6 a.m., and public transport is again limited to this group, which consists of people from the health, commerce and food and fuel sectors, as well as politicians, diplomats and journalists.
Group trips are also banned after a series of cases of young people infected during graduation trips to Mexico and Bariloche. Argentina has already reduced entry and exit from the country to just 2,000 people a day and suspended flights to and from Brazil, Mexico, Chile and the UK.
The measures also include the ban on social activities in households and in public spaces with a maximum of 20 people. The operation of casinos, bingos, nightclubs and ballrooms has been suspended.
The measures start to come into force on Friday (9) and last until the end of April, at first. Fernández said the idea was to vaccinate faster by then. However, since the arrival of the first doses, the vaccination campaign has been very slow. The country is in 12th place among those who vaccinate the most, just behind Brazil.
On Wednesday again, a scandal sparked controversy in the country, when a vaccination line was interrupted at La Plata stadium to make way for a River Plate match. Argentina vaccine mainly with Russian immunizer Sputnik V and also adopts AstraZeneca and Sinopharm.
The escalation of cases in neighboring Uruguay also led to an announcement by President Luis Lacalle Pou on Wednesday. He said that Brazilian variants are circulating in the country beyond the border region and, therefore, there is a need to increase care. Uruguayan ICUs recorded an occupancy rate of 74%.
Lacalle Pou maintained the suspension of face-to-face classes until at least May and asked people to count at least two weeks after the second dose of the vaccine to relax precautionary measures.
“People’s belief that only the first dose works helps the virus circulate,” he said.