The coronavirus pandemic is in the ascendancy in Argentina with a peak of infections likely to arrive at the end of June, Health Minister Ginés González García predicted yesterday.
On the 70th day of Argentina’s mandatory lockdown to tackle the spread of the novel Covid-19 coronavirus, Health Ministry officials confirmed Friday that 717 new infections had been recorded, with 10 fatalities.
Once again, the majority of cases were in Buenos Aires City and Province, with the former recording 398 new infections and the latter 273. Of the new fatalities recorded, 90 percent were from those two regions.
The figures mean Argentina has now registered more than 15,000 cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic began, with 520 deaths in total to date.
Officials said that of all the cases registered to date, 6.6 percent are considered “imported,” with 43.9 percent passed via close contacts of confirmed cases. Some 34 percent are a result of community circulation, with the rest under investigation.
Speaking one day after leaving hospital, after reporting numbness in his arm unrelated to the virus, González García told reporters that the country was in a crucial stage of the pandemic, saying how long the peak lasted “depends on how much we do, on how we take care of ourselves and on how we take care of everyone else."
He called on citizens to take responsibility for their behaviour, saying the authorities were paying close attention to areas of “high demographic density” and low-income neighbourhoods, in particular.
The veteran health minister, experiencing his third stint in office, said that two-thirds of all Covid-19 cases were in the barrios populares, otherwise known as villas.
“All the most common diseases of the human species are more common in the middle and lower middle classes than in the upper and upper middle classes," he said.
The minister said the government was doing all it could to reduce the transmission of the virus in low-income neighbourhoods, with increased testing and greater resources being deployed.
In recent weeks, a two-step approach has been seen across the country. While officials are keen to tighten the lockdown in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area (where more than 85 percent of all cases have been recorded), 22 provinces have seen restrictions loosened after not reporting cases for an extended period.
However, in a less than welcome sign for the authorities, new cases were registered this week in provinces which had been clear of Covid-19 for some time, including Jujuy, Chubut, Misiones, Entre Ríos, Corrientes and San Juan.
In the capital and its surroundings, meanwhile, the lockdown is likely to continue for another six to 10 weeks, one City government official said this week.
Some stores in busy shopping districts in the capital even had to close their shutters again this week after re-opening, as officials looked to half the spread of the virus. Essential stores and those located in less busy neighbourhoods, however, were allowed to remain open.
Schools have remained closed across the country, with classes banned, along with large events, such as sports matches and concerts.