Health officials said Monday that the first cases of community transmission of the novel coronavirus have been recorded in Argentina.
The announcement was made at the Health Ministry's daily press conference on the spread of Covid-19 in the country. Community transmission, otherwise known as community spread, refers to when the source of an infection is unknown – i.e. experts are unable to be traced the infection back to someone who travelled to an affected area overseas, or someone who got the virus through contact with an individual who was infected.
Health Access Secretary Carla Vizzotti told reporters at a press conference that "community transmission" of Covid-19 is beginning, particularly in Buenos Aires City and its surroundings, as well as "some cities in Chaco, Tierra del Fuego and Córdoba.”
In a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, President Alberto Fernández last week ordered a "preventive and mandatory" isolation, effective until the end of the month.
Beyond the general measures, Vizzotti said, the potential application of additional measures in those regions are being analysed. Rumours have circulated in the last 24 hours that Fernández will move to extend the quarantine period next week.
Vizzotti also stressed that there were concerns in the government about the number of individuals that are breaking the mandatory quarantine.
The issue was discussed on Sunday in a meeting led by Health Minister Ginés González García with representatives from all provinces.
"There is a lot of demand for enforcement and it is evident that people who have orders to isolate are not complying and that those who are arriving from trips do not visualise the importance of their isolation," she said.
"The whole system is preparing for the eventual situation of increased cases and increased demand. We are working to strengthen human resources and health centres. The Ministry is working hard on the centralised purchase of equipment," she added.
Speaking at the same press conference, Assistant Secretary for Health Strategy Alejandro Costa offered a review of the latest numbers.
"In Argentina, 266 cases have been confirmed, of which 190 have a history of international travel; 59 have local transmission in a cluster, one case has no history of travel or close contact, and 17 are undergoing epidemiological evaluation,” he said.
In addition, Costa provided clarification regarding the cases of "local cluster transmission," confirming that that is a reference to people who had contact with patients without being particularly close to them for an extended period – for example, health workers or those assigned to airports.