Argentina recorded 2,657 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, surpassing the symbolic 100,000 barrier.
The Health Ministry said in total 100,153 individuals have now tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the country. More than 90 percent of all infections registered since the virus arrived in Argentina are in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area (AMBA).
The government’s daily report also confirmed 27 new fatalities, in addition to eight announced earlier in the day, lifting the death toll in Argentina since the pandemic began to 1,845.
Almost 43,000 individuals have recovered since receiving a positive diagnosis for the coronavirus, officials added.
Despite the landmark, Argentina’s caseload of just over 100,000 remains far below most of its neighbours in the region – for example, Colombia has more than 140,000 infections, Chile more than 310,000, Peru more than 322,000 and Brazil has more than 1.8 million.
According to a report in La Nación published Sunday, around eight percent of Argentina's 100,000 cases are healthcare professionals.
The Health Ministry said that more than 700 individuals with Covid-19 are currently in intensive care units (ICUs) in Argentina, with bed ICU occupancy at 59 percent in the AMBA region and 52 percent nationwide.
Reflecting a growing trend, the number of cases being recorded in Buenos Aires Province (1,633) each day is now close to double those registered in Buenos Aires City (754). In total, 38,335 cases have been recorded in the capital, with 53,661 cases recorded in the nation’s most-populous province.
More than 90 percent of all confirmed cases are in the AMBA region, where some 14 million of the country's 44 million inhabitants live.
Nearly 30 percent of all Argentina’s confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the start of the outbreak have been registered in the last 10 days, data shows, indicating a surge in the number of infections.
Residents in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area returned to a strict lockdown last Wednesday (July 1) and restrictions are set to remain in place until at least July 17. Over that period infections have soared, though officials have said the impact of the renewed lockdown on the numbers would only begin to be seen in the coming week or two.
Those in the capital and periphery have now spent more than 115 days under lockdown after a period of mandatory social isolation was first imposed on March 20 by President Alberto Fernández.
In most of Argentina’s 23 provinces, community circulation of the virus is very low and restrictions have generally been loosened in most regions, with more and more activities allowed to restart under specific conditions.
Officials in the Buenos Aires City and Buenos Aires Province governments are studying the infection rate ahead of a decision due this week regarding the quarantine in the AMBA region, reports said Sunday.
Both the region’s leaders – City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and Provincial Governor Axel Kicillof – feel that the return to tighter restrictions has been a success, flattening the curve of infections, officials told Noticias Argentinas.
Approval of activites
Authorities are still debating what will happen post-July 17, though reports over the weekend suggested that some shops will be allowed to re-open, while permission for citizens to leave their homes for exercise is likely to be granted as previously.
According to reports this weekend, the re-opening of shops and businesses will be the priority. Data from the FECOBA trade chamber has found that 29,000 commercial stores closed last month in Buenos Aires City, many of them family-owned businesses.
The potential re-opening of hairdressers, restaurants (with tables outside for customers) and shopping malls are also under discussion.
Kicillof’s administration is also said to be considering approving individual outdoor sports, while small family gatherings under also under discussion.
"Decision-making [regarding confinement] in the Metropolitan Area will continue to be agreed [by both sides]. There are different ideas that can be expressed in a democratic dialogue," Cabinet Chief Santiago Cafiero told the press this weekend.
To date, Fernández has announced all lockdown measures in agreement with Rodríguez Larreta, though the City mayor is coming under increasing pressure from some in the opposition Juntos por el Cambio coalition who believe restrictions should be lifted.