Cabinet ministers, infectious disease experts and advisors huddled at the Casa Rosada on Monday to discuss the evolution of the coronavirus pandemic, with sources saying that President Alberto Fernández is set to announce tightened restrictions before the weekend.
The recent surge in Covid-19 cases and the dwindling numbers of beds in intensive care units across the country are troubling minds in Argentina, with medical experts warning that the nation’s health system is “saturated.”
Cabinet Chief Santiago Cafiero and Health Minister Carla Vizzotti heard from various infectious disease specialists and medical experts at Monday’s meeting. The Noticias Argentinas news agency, citing unnamed government sources, reported that there was “unanimity on the part of the experts over the need to tighten circulation controls.”
The intention, according to the sources, is to now review what non-essential activities can be regulated further, to lower the circulation of people on the street.
Debate on whether schools should remain open for in-person classes failed to reach a consensus, according to La Nación.
Medical experts are said to have told the government that the “health system is saturated and its staff, stressed.” Worryingly, some hospitals are reporting problems sourcing oxygen.
Infections have surged over the past two weeks, with more than 20,000 cases a day becoming the norm. Occupancy of ICU beds in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area (AMBA) is at 76.2 percent, according to data from the Health Ministry, while at 67.7 percent nationwide.
Existing restrictions to tackle the spread of Covid-19, imposed 10 days ago via an emergency decree from President Fernández, are set to expire on Friday.
News of Monday’s meeting came just a few hours after local outlets reported that officials in both the Buenos Aires City and Province administrations were refusing to rule out the chance of tightened measures being reintroduced.
Perfil’s Ezequiel Spillman reported Monday that City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta was willing to meet with the president in the coming days to discuss further protections, with a face-to-face encounter likely to take place on Wednesday or Thursday. According to the article, the mayor still wants to keep schools open, though he may agree to limiting the hours for in-person classes or limiting days to specific age groups.
Vizzotti is expected to meet with provincial governors on Tuesday, before Fernández does the same the following day.
Buenos Aires Province Health Minister Daniel Gollan called Monday for “drastic measures for at least 15 days," including "a very strong limit on the movement of people."