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ARGENTINA | 15-11-2020 20:55

Guzmán, Pesce, Massa in isolation after IMF officials gets Covid-19

A number of government officials – including Martín Guzmán, Miguel Pesce and Sergio Massa – went into preventative isolation on Sunday, after a member of a visiting IMF mission tested positive for Covid-19.

A number of government officials went into preventative isolation on Sunday, after a member of a visiting IMF mission tested positive for Covid-19.

In a statement, the government confirmed that Economy Minister Martín Guzmán, Central Bank chief Miguel Ángel Pesce, IMF Executive Director for the Southern Cone Sergio Chodos and Lower House Speaker Sergio Massa had all taken tests to see if they had been infected after coming into contact with the delegate over the past week. 

"All of those who had meetings with the IMF team are isolated and will be tested according to established protocols," the government said in a statement, adding that none of the officials had shown symptoms of the disease.

Guzmán's come back negative on Sunday, though the other results were as yet unknown at the time of writing. "Beyond this news, all of us who participated in the meetings [with the IMF mission team] are isolated and the work agenda will be virtual," the minister said in a post on Twitter, confirming the news.

A mission team from the International Monetary Fund has been in Buenos Aires since Tuesday, with talks underway for a new financing programme to replace Argentina's existing credit-line.

IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said earlier in New York that one of the eight members of the IMF mission had tested positive during routine tests on Saturday. He said the member would be tested again on Sunday to confirm the initial finding.

"Upon learning the results," Rice said, "the team immediately informed the Argentine authorities and went into self-isolation."

"The IMF team in coordination with the authorities also initiated contact tracing protocols to advise all persons with whom the IMF team met over the past week about the positive test," he said. "The team will continue its work and will hold any further meetings virtually."

He said that all team members performed a Covid-19 test before leaving Washington and immediately upon arriving in Buenos Aires."

Rice said the affected IMF team member was asymptomatic and feeling well. The individual was identified by local outlets as Luis Cubbedu, a Venezuelan economist who is in charge of the IMF's dealings with Argentina. It is unknown as yet if he was infected while in Argentina, or if he had contracted the virus prior to his arrival in Buenos Aires.

Cubbedu, as well as fellow IMF officials Julie Kozack and Trevor Alleyne) are now expected to remain in Argentina for the following 10 to 14 days.

The news comes with President Alberto Fernández in self-isolation. The Peronist leader shut himself off in the Olivos presidential residence on Wednesday, after Strategic Affairs Secretary Gustavo Beliz tested positive for Covid-19.

Argentina's 44 million population has been badly hit by the coronavirus, with more than 1.3 million cases and more than 35,000 deaths.

– TIMES/AFP/NA

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