Argentina’s most northern and southern provinces, Jujuy and Tierra del Fuego, are now of high concern to officials in the national government, given a recent surge in coronavirus infections.
The two provinces now have the highest overall incidence rate – i.e. number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants – from Covid-19 behind only the Buenos Aires metropolitan area (AMBA), official data shows.
Last Sunday, Health Access Secretary Carla Vizzotti, revealed during the Health Ministry’s daily briefing that the two provinces had leapfrogged Chaco with higher rates – Tierra del Fuego has 963 infections per 100,000, while Jujuy is at 789 cases.
According to data shared by Corrientes Senator Martín Barrionuevo, Jujuy has an incidence rate of 222 per 100,000 people over the last seven days (up until August 26), with Tierra Del Fuego registering 173.
Ana Alcoba, director of the San Roque de Jujuy hospital, the region’s best-prepared institution to deal with the novel coronavirus, told Télam this week that doctors in the region “have no rest.”
With more than 200 cases a day, healthcare professionals are working tirelessly to ensure the health system doesn’t collapse. Beds are running short though, with intensive care units (ICUs) running at high occupancy.
Alcoba said the hospitals had equipment but that staffing levels were insufficient, adding that provincial officials are seeking reinforcements from other regions and the national government.
Despite optimism over the initial approach to the crisis, the hospital director said that the situation was still “complicated.”
Down south in Tierra del Fuego, the situation is also worsening in the 67,000-strong city of Río Grande, where fears of a surge in cases are coming true.
To date, more than 1,400 cases have been recorded with 25 deaths. Nevertheless, locals say ‘quarantine fatigue’ is hitting home. For Florencia Basso, from the National University of Tierra del Fuego (Untdf), extensions to the lockdown are generating generates "inevitable conflicts."
"There is a lot of fatigue. And the questions begin. Traders wonder why they enable some items and others not. Activities that are allowed depend on others, such as home care for children, which are not yet released. It is difficult to sustain,” she said.
In Ushuaia, the provincial capital and the other major urban centres of the province, the health situation is less compromised, though the economic crisis is hitting hard.
According to the general secretary of the local hotel and gastronomic union, Ramón Calderón, "25 percent of jobs [in the region] have already been lost," while "70 percent of the city's establishments are paralysed."