Unrest is rising at the government’s renewed lockdown in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area (AMBA) to tackle the spread of Covid-19 – and so are the numbers.
Health Ministry officials yesterday confirmed 52 new fatalities from the novel coronavirus and 2,845 new infections, lifting the total death toll to 1,437 and the total number of confirmed cases to 72,786.
Of the new cases, just 1.5 percent are now considered “imported,” with 35.5 percent a result of close contact with confirmed cases. Around 46 percent are a result of community circulation, with the remainder still under investigation.
The government also confirmed total occupation of intensive care beds nationwide stood at 51 percent, with the level rising to 56.3 percent in the AMBA region.
Late Friday, President Alberto Fernández held a private meeting with Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta at the Olivos presidential residence to study data from the first week of the new mandatory lockdown period in the capital and its surroundings, which will run until July 17.
The meeting, which lasted more than 40 minutes according to reports, saw the duo evaluate attempts to halt the spread of the coronavirus, with officials seeking to ensure the daily number of new cases does not exceed 2,500.
As a first priority, both the national and city governments are seeking to reduce the circulation of people in the capital to around 200,000 to 300,000 a day. The Security Ministry, Gendarmerie and Federal Police have been tasked with policing entrances and exits to the city all day every day, while some units tasked with patrolling the streets to broadcast messages asking residents to stay in their homes. According to the Transport Ministry, on Wednesday (the first day of the renewed lockdown) there were 298,791 fewer users than the same day the previous week.
While Argentina struggles to cope with its own acceleration in cases, in Europe many countries are returning to some semblance of normality – pubs are even opening in the United Kingdom, for example.
Here on the other side of the Atlantic, the news is increasingly grim with the US posting a record 53,000 new Covid cases on Friday, while the number of infections in Latin America overtook those in Europe for the first time.
Touching almost every country on Earth since it emerged in China late last year, the coronavirus has hit at least 10.8 million people and killed 521,000 globally, shattering previously buoyant economies and bringing public life to a standstill.
The World Health Organisation called on countries hit by serious outbreaks to "wake up" to the realities instead of bickering over them.
"People need to wake up. The data is not lying. The situation on the ground is not lying," WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan told journalists in Geneva. "It is never too late in an epidemic to take control."