With a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in the past 10 days and concerns over the spread of new strains, Argentina’s Health Minister Carla Vizzotti declared that the country is facing a “critical moment.”
“We are worried. The healthcare system is under pressure. The situation is not the same as it was in 2020 – the accelerated increase [in cases] means that intensive care beds above all have been put under pressure,” said Vizzotti, who took over from Ginés González García in February, after the emergence of the VIP Vaccine scandal.
The government official also highlighted the circulation of new strains coming from the UK and Manaus in Brazil, arguing they have “increased to 10 percent” of total cases.
She added, “they are not predominantly circulating, but they are increasing and that is a concern."
A record amount of 27,001 confirmed cases were reported by the Health Ministry on Tuesday, with a total of 217 fatalities, bringing Argentina’s death toll to 58,174.
Alberto Fernández’s administration recently tightened measures across the country, placing a midnight to 6am curfew in Federal Capital and other districts with high epidemiological risk as well as other restrictions on social gatherings. But the health minister said the cases we are seeing now are from the ten days leading up to that and the government agrees that a few more days are needed to see the impact of the current restrictions.
“The number of cases is not going to be the only factor in making decisions, but a series of indicators such as the speed in which [the cases] rise, the occupancy of intensive care beds and the compliance with the measures,” said Vizzotti.
She also clarified that within different jurisdictions “governors can strengthen their measures if cases rise or if they see that a new dangerous strain is circulating.”
The densely populated Buenos Aires metropolitan area (AMBA) is an area of concern, and Interior Minister Eduardo 'Wado' De Pedro made remarks about the potential emergence of a “Buenos Aires strain” of the virus, should infections continue to accelerate.
Buenos Aires City Health Minister Fernán Quirós responded to the remarks by arguing such a turn of events “could happen in any part of the country.”
“All of the countries which have viral circulation are at risk of a genetic mutation in the virus generating a new strain and Argentina is not an exception. All of Argentina has a very intense viral circulation so it could happen in any part of the country,” he said.
Quirós added that in the meantime, the country must wait for the “necessary volume of vaccines”, which is so far proving difficult in Argentina which has so far secured 4.88 million doses for a 45 million population.
Looking at the capital alone, Quiros disclosed that “608,100 vaccines have been received and 560,005 have been administered” and “in the next four days there are appointments for the 50,000 left.”
The minister said there were sufficient vaccines to cope until Friday.
— TIMES / NA