It's a case that's almost too macabre to imagine, a 71-year-old grandfather passed away on Wednesday in Argentina after being infected with the novel Covid-19 coronavirus – by his own grandson.
The news emerged on the day that Health Ministry officials confirmed 79 new cases in the country, lifting the cumulative total to 1,133. Officials also said five fatalities had been recorded Wednesday, including the late grandfather, lifting the death toll to 32.
The death in Moreno, Buenos Aires Province, has shocked Argentines. And it is far from the end of a twisted tale that reads more like a black comedy than reality.
The 71-year-old, identified in local outlets as Luis Suárez, died at a private institution after being admitted to hospital on March 22 after showing symptoms of the coronavirus. He previously suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure, local outlets reported, and his age put him in the at-risk category.
Suárez, however, is the grandfather of 24-year-old Eric Toledo – an individual who is being currently held under house arrest on charges of endangering public health.
Not only did Toledo infect his grandfather, officials believe, he also is responsible for infecting at least 20 individuals in the municipality – all on one night, at a 15th birthday party.
Moreno, to the west of the capital in Greater Buenos Aires, currently has a total of 26 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with a further 29 people under observation awaiting tests – more than wealthy barrios such as San Isidro and Vicente López and double that of La Matanza, the province's most populated territory.
Municipal officials are concerned, especially given the region has just one hospital. And they believe the young man is responsible for the vast majority of those cases – Moreno's own 'patient zero.'
Toledo returned to Argentina on March 13 from the United States, when the nationwide lockdown for all citizens was yet to take effect. However, at that time, all individuals who were returning to the country from so-called "risk" or "affected" areas (including the US) were under obligation to self-isolate themselves for 14 days.
The following night, however, the 24-year-old accountant decided to take an alternative option – he travelled to the town of La Reja in Moreno to attend his cousin's 15th birthday party, according to Infobae, where he subsequently passed on the virus to a host of others. More than 100 people were in attendance.
Health officials now believe Toledo infected at least 20 individuals at the party, including his late grandfather. The majority are under the age of 19. Even the DJ has been diagnosed with the virus.
At least two elderly individuals, aged 76 and 79, have subsequently been admitted to the local Hospital Mariano y Luciano de la Vega, where they are receiving respiratory assistance. According to local daily Pagina/12, they are the grandparents of the quinceañera.
"The situation set fire to the map – if not, we would have four cases and not 26 ," Deputy Secretary of Programming and Health Planning in Moreno, Juan Varani, told the newspaper on Wednesday.
Toledo, who is currently detained at his home in Palermo, in Buenos Aires City, according to reports, was ordered to go into isolation after isiting a health clinic in Belgrano last week. He no. faces between three and 15 years in prison if prosecuted under Article 202 of Argentina's penal code for his role in spreading a dangerous and contagious disease.
Judicial sources told the Noticias Argentinas news agency on Wednesday that the federal judge in charge of the case, Néstor Barral, based in Morón, is exploring whether to escalate the charge as there is now at least one deceased individual.