Argentina halts easing virus lockdown

Argentina President Alberto Fernandez announced on Friday a halt on the easing of coronavirus lockdown measures due to an increase in new cases and fears the health system could become overwhelmed.

“We will keep things as they are until August 16,” said Fernandez.

“In the last few days the virus has been spreading more and we’ve seen a larger increase in infections. All this generates hospital admissions and unfortunately deaths.”

On Thursday, Argentina registered a record 6,377 new cases and 153 deaths over the previous 24 hours.

The South American country has recorded more than 185,000 cases and over 3,400 deaths.

There are also more than 1,000 people in intensive care with COVID-19, amounting to a 55 percent occupation of those units in the country as a whole and 64.5 percent in the Buenos Aires metropolitan region.

Axel Kicillof, the governor of the Buenos Aires region, said “if the numbers don’t come down we’ll have to impose a much tougher quarantine because (hospital) beds will fill up.”

More than 90 percent of Argentine cases have been in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area.

There had been plans to continue with the gradual easing of lockdown measures by allowing certain individual sports and outdoor exercise from Monday.

However, those plans have been put on hold with authorities pleading with citizens to take individual responsibility for containing the spread of the disease.

“The big problem we had in the last two weeks was that we relaxed. We felt that the situation was contained, but that’s not the case. It’s a long way from being contained,” said Fernandez.

While many businesses have been allowed to reopen, schools remain closed and sports and shows are still suspended. (AFP)

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