President Alberto Fernández said Monday that the his Brazilian counterpart, Jair Bolsonaro, is putting Argentina at risk with his approach to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Peronist leader said he feared Argentina's biggest trading partner could be on the verge of a spiral of contagion.
"It complicates [tte situation] and I very much regret that the dimension of the problem is not understood," Fernández told Radio con Vos, when asked about Bolsonaro's request to the Brazilians continue their activities as normal, despite the advance of the pandemic in Brazil, which has registered more than 4,000 cases and 130 deaths to date.
Argentina shares a border with Brazil that stretches some 1,100 kilometres and the nation is the main destination for its exports.
"Brazil accounts for 70 percent of South America's gross domestic product and is our main economic partner," Fernández said.
"One fears that with this logic [Brazil] will enter the same spiral [of contagion], as Spain, Italy or the United States entered," he said. "By the time they declared a quarantine it was too late."
Bolsonaro said on Sunday that "Brazil cannot stop," taking the opposite line to his health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who had stressed the importance of social isolation in the fight against the disease.
In the opinion of the Brazilian president, "if you don't die from the disease, you die from hunger".
Argentina took the opposite path and in addition to closing the borders, the government on Sunday extended mandatory isolation for two more weeks until April 12.
"To the Argentines, my gratitude because they understand the reason for what I am asking and I feel that they accompany the idea," Fernández said of the nationwide shutdown, which has been widely observed.
Argentina has recorded 820 positive cases of the new coronavirus and 22 deaths as of Monday, according to the latest official report.
The government is preparing to prepare more hospital beds and to purchase and produce supplies for a possible peak in the number of cases in early May.
Despite the early measures of isolation to mitigate the infections, the president admitted that the situation will be difficult.
"We are going to have a hard time, there are going to be more infections and people dying, but I want it to hurt as little as possible," he said.