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ARGENTINA | 18-03-2020 15:41

Chaco Governor Capitanich orders total quarantine of province

Jorge Capitanich takes "drastic" measures to shut off region until March 31, closing nine border crossings; Mayor of El Calafate orders mandatory quarantine and shuts off city after tourist tests positive for Covid-19.

Chaco Governor Jorge Capitanich has closed his province's nine border crossings and shut off the region in quarantine, in a bid to halt the advance of the coronavirus disease.

The two-time former Cabinet chief, speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, said that the lockdown would begin at midnight this Wednesday, March 18, and said he would task the police with circulating the streets to ensure no large gatherings took place and that citizens respect the quarantine. 

At the time of writing, at least 12 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in the province, of which six are considered "imported." Five are a result of coming into contact with those who have or had Covid-19, while one is likely a result of viral circulation – a local doctor who has been described as the "first indigenous case" of coronavirus registered in the country. Fears that the virus may be circulating among the community was a key factor in the decision to shut off the province.

The doctor in question, 46-year-old Gabriela Muñoz, later identified herself in an interview with local news channel TN. 

Muñoz, head of external clinics at the Perrando Hospital in Resistencia, said she had not come into contact with patients who had the virus or who had travelled abroad.

"I think I am an indigenous case. I did not travel anywhere or was in contact with any of the cases that tested positive in Chaco," she said in an interview.

Capitanich told reporters that at least 110 samples have been sent to the Malbrán Institute for analysis, of which 12 have been confirmed as having been infected with Covid-19. Forty samples were ruled out, while provincial officials are awaiting the results of 48 others.

The Peronist governor said all citizens were compelled to stay in their homes, adding that he had ordered the closure of all the province's border crossings and slapped a ban on all events. Police would circulate around the streets, ensuring the limited movement of citizens and urging residents to return to their homes.

He also called on his citizens to act responsibly, revealing that 27 individuals had been put under home arrest for failing to comply with national government orders regarding mandatory quarantine. Police guards were at stationed outside the doors of those who had broken rules saying that they should isolate themselves, he revealed.

Speaking later, the province's security and justice minister, Gloria Zalazar, said a total of 95 homes had been checked from a list of those who had been ordered to isolate themselves for 14 days after returning from trips overseas.

El Calafate restrictions

Meanwhile, officials in El Calafate, Santa Cruz Province, have shut themselves off after the first positive case of Covid-19 was confirmed in the southern city.

"I hereby notify you that El Calafate is in quarantine. Suspend all activities and stay at home," said Mayor Javier Belloni in a post on social networks.

The famed tourist site, known for being the entry point to Los Glaciares National Park, has barred all individuals – with the exception of emergency staff, suppliers and residents – from entering its territory, after Belloni issued a decree ordering mandatory quarantine and declaring an economic, health and social emergency. 

All shops, bar pharmacies, supermarkets and medical sites, have been shuttered, while traffic will be severely restricted.

A statement from the provincial Health Ministry said that a French tourist, who arrived in El Calafate one week ago and remains under quarantine, had tested positive for the coronavirus after showing symptoms of the disease.

The 63-year-old had previously stayed at the Edenia Hotel, along with three other members of his group. One has tested negative, while another two are awaiting results from the Malbrán Institute, officials said.

Those in isolation were “complying with all current protocols,” read the statement.

Santa Cruz is the second province in Patagonia to register a confirmed case of Covid-19 after Tierra del Fuego, which has two positive tests for the new coronavirus.

– TIMES/NA/PERFIL

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