Argentina recorded its highest daily rise in confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus on Saturday night, as health officials revealed there had 67 new diagnoses in the last 24 hours.
In total, 225 individuals are now infected with the virus, said health officials, stressing that the vast majority of cases are "imported" with some local transmission among communities. Four have died so far.
Of the 67 new cases, according to the Health Ministry, 29 are in Buenos Aires City and 15 are in Buenos Aires Province – to date Greater Buenos Aires has recorded more than 70 percent of total cases. Five new cases were also registered in Chaco and Mendoza provinces, with four in Córdoba, three in Tierra del Fuego, two in Corrientes and Santa Fe respectively and single cases registered in Tucumán and Río Negro .
However, health officials from the Buenos Aires City government said there were 33 total cases, not 29. Previous disparities have been a result of confusion over patients and whether they were defined under the location they are from, or where they are receiving treatment, or as to whether their diagnosis had been confirmed by an analysis.
A statement from the national Health Ministry confirmed that 45 of the new cases related to individuals with a recent history of travel to so-called "risk areas," that 12 were a result of coming into close contact with someone infected with Covid-19 and that 10 were being investigated to see if they were community or "indigenous" cases of transmission.
Earlier on Saturday, officials confirmed the fourth fatality from the virus – a 67-year-old woman, resident of Buenos Aires Province, who suffered from obesity and
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. She had recently travelled from the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean, from February 28 to March 12.
Nearly one billion people around the world were confined to their homes on Sunday, as the coronavirus death toll crossed 13,000 and factories were shut in worst-hit Italy after another single-day fatalities record.
The raging pandemic has forced lockdowns in 35 countries, disrupting lives, travel and businesses as governments scramble to shut borders and unleash hundreds of billions in emergency measures to avoid a widespread virus-fuelled economic meltdown.
More than 300,000 infections have been confirmed worldwide, with the situation increasingly grim in Italy where the death toll spiked to more than 4,800 – over a third of the global total.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced a closure of all non-essential factories in a late-night TV address on Saturday. The Mediterranean nation of 60 million is now the epicentre of the disease, which first emerged in central China late last year before marching out to the rest of the world.
Italy has now reported more deaths than mainland China and third-placed Iran combined, and it has a death rate of 8.6 percent among confirmed Covid-19 infections – significantly higher than in most other countries.
Across the Atlantic, more than a third of US citizens were adjusting to life in various phases of lockdown, including in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Other parts of the United States are expected to ramp up restrictions as well.
"This is a time of shared national sacrifice, but also a time to treasure our loved ones," US President Donald Trump said. "We're going to have a great victory."
As world leaders have vowed to fight the pandemic, the number of deaths and infections has continued to rise, especially in Europe – now the main coronavirus hotspot.
Spain reported a 32 percent spike in new deaths on Saturday, with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez warning that the nation needs to prepare for "very hard days ahead".
Fatalities in France jumped to 562 as police officials said helicopters and drones were being deployed to boost the government's attempts to keep people in their homes.
The unprecedented measures to counter the spread of Covid-19 have shredded the international sports calendar, and pressure is mounting on Olympic organisers to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Games.