Argentina recorded its highest daily death toll yet from the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday, with 537 deaths in the last 24 hours.
The number was more than double the previous day's total and surpassed the previous daily high of 515 deaths on October 9 last year. A total of 60,620 fatalities have now been recorded since the start of the pandemic.
The Health Ministry also said 27,216 new infections had been recorded over the preceding 24 hours.
Almost 2.8 million confirmed cases have now been registered by the authorities in Argentina since last March, with 286,355 still considered 'active.'
Once again, the highest number of new cases was recorded in Buenos Aires Province, with 12,949 over the last 24 hours. Buenos Aires City continued in second place with 3,560, followed by the provinces of Córdoba and Santa Fe, with 1,805 and 2,059 respectively.
Of the new fatalities, the majority were recorded in Buenos Aires Province, the nation's most-populous region, where 134 women and 192 men lost their lives.
The stark figures underline the strain on the national health system in Argentina, which is in the grip of a contagious second wave of infections. Government data showed that bed occupancy in intensive care units nationwide stands at 65.6 percent, and at 75.3 percent in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area (AMBA). The number of patients being attended rose to 4,791.
In recent weeks, a number of high-profile doctors and healthcare professionals have warned of the difficulties facing hospitals.
On Thursday, Rosa Bologna, head of epidemiology at the Garrahan Children's Hospital in Buenos Aires said that the institution's Covid wards were at 100 percent capacity. She warned that even "small infants" could struggle from the virus, estimating that around 1,000 kids have received treatment for coronavirus at the hospital since the start of the pandemic.
A day earlier, Claudio Belocopitt, the owner of Swiss Medical Group, said that officials on both sides of the aisle were "messing around of the deck of the Titanic" – a reference to the ongoing legal battle over whether in-person classes at schools in Buenos Aires City can continue.
"We are in the worst moment [on the pandemic], living desperate and very distressing hours," said Belocopitt, the head of the Argentine Union of Health Entities. "I no longer have the words to describe the situation and to convey to society in general the very serious problem that we are facing and it affects us all."