Health Minister Carla Vizzotti declared Monday that Argentina is facing a “fourth wave” of Covid-19 infections, more than 26 months after the virus first arrived in the country.
The head of the health portfolio said that there had been a sharp increase in the number of infections of late, though she stressed that deaths and hospitalisations remained low, thanks to Argentina’s mass vaccination programme.
"Today we are beginning a fourth wave of Covid-19 in Argentina, which finds us in a totally different situation," said Vizzotti, speaking at a meeting of the Federal Health Council with provincial health ministers in Villa La Angostura, Neuquén Province.
In the Health Ministry’s latest weekly update, released on Sunday, 33,989 infections were reported from the last seven days, a 92.6-percent jump on the previous week’s total of 17,646. The highest increases were recorded in the nation’s capital, Buenos Aires City, and La Pampa Province.
However, Covid hospitalisations remained stable, rising from 295 to 300 nationwide. Over the past seven days, 47 people died from Covid-19, compared to 76 the previous week.
"We have not seen an increase in the number of deaths or hospitalisations in intensive care [units], which is our goal," said Vizzotti.
Argentina, with a population of 45 million people, has recorded 9,135,308 infections and 128,776 deaths since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, according to official data.
Vizzotti said that there had been an increase in cases following the cold spell that arrived in the middle of autumn. Nevertheless, she dismissed rumours that President Alberto Fernández's government is considering a new lockdown to curb contagion.
"There is no possibility of new closures," declared the minister, who asked the population to trust in Covid-19 vaccines.
"In China the strategy is zero Covid. But in Argentina, we know that we cannot eliminate the coronavirus or eradicate it," she added. "There is no possibility that there will be no Covid-19, especially with these new variants that have greater transmissibility."
Vizzotti said that "thanks to every measure that has been taken and the efforts of society, health teams and national, provincial and municipal governments, we have a panorama in relation to vaccination that allows us to move forward in a new stage of this pandemic."
Argentina began administering a fourth dose of anti-virus vaccine to people over 50 years of age last month. Eighty-three percent of the population has received two vaccines against Covid-19, while 49 percent have received a booster.
Immunologist and CONICET researcher Jorge Geffner said Monday that the new numbers were “significant,” given that testing rates across the country were not particularly high.
Geffner told Radio Nacional that infections rates were on “an important curve."