Argentina’s government has decreed five days of national mourning, in tribute to the more than 100,000 people who have lost their lives after being infected with Covid-19.
The Casa Rosada made the announcement in a notice published on Thursday morning in the Official Gazette, the morning after the Health Ministry confirmed that the landmark had been reached.
Decree 459/2021, signed by President Alberto Fernández and Cabinet Chief Santiago Cafiero, said the move is a bid to recognise the “immense pain that runs through the whole of society, for each and every one of our people who were fatal victims of the pandemic."
The notice described the coronavirus pandemic as "a real tragedy that plagues humanity," and said it was "necessary to have a period of national mourning to allow us to remember and commemorate the deceased."
Argentina, with around 45 million inhabitants, has now registered 100,250 deaths, with a total of 4,702,657 cases reported since the virus first arrived here in March 2020.
Worldwide, the country ranks eighth for total confirmed cases and 11th for fatalities. For both infections and deaths per one million inhabitants, Argentina is 13th.
"Each of these individuals had a name, a life, relatives, male friends, female friends and affections," read Thursday’s decree, in which Fernández urges Argentines to become aware "of the need to attend to personal and collective care."
During the period of national mourning, the national flag will be flown at half mast at all public buildings.
Calling for unity, the government called in the decree for the continuation and “rapid advance” of “the largest vaccination campaign in the history of the country."
In recent weeks, Argentina’s immunisation campaign has picked up, following the arrival of millions of doses of the Sputnik V, Sinopharm and Astrazeneca vaccines. The government earlier this week confirmed it had ordered 20 million doses of the Moderna shot, with anticipated arrival in early 2022.
As of Wednesday, 20,605,189 people have received at least one vaccine dose, representing 60.85 percent of the population aged over 18 years of age and 45 percent of the total population. Of the vaccinated, 5,113,342 people are completely immunised, according to Argentina’s Public Vaccination Monitor webpage.
Macri criticises government
The surpassing of the grim landmark on Wednesday prompted criticism of the government from the opposition, many of whom chose to highlight previous comments made by President Fernández at the beginning of the pandemic.
Commenting on the introduction of lockdown restrictions to tackle the spread of the virus, the Peronist leader said in an interview with Perfil in April 2020 that he would prefer “to have 10 percent more poor people and not 100,000 dead.” Fernández went on to argue that he would rather have a stronger economic contraction than more fatalities.
Speaking Thursday, former president Mauricio Macri mocked those words, saying that "in the end we have 10 percent more poor and 100,000 dead." The PRO leader described the Fernández administration's handling of the pandemic as "the worst in the entire world," charging that "with more humility and less ideology, things could have been different.
Macri is currently in Switzerland for his work with the FIFA Foundation.