In a ruling that will spark anger among yerba enthusiasts, the nation’s court-workers and judicial officers have been told to break with one of Argentina’s most beloved traditions – and stop sharing their mate.
The reason for this blasphemy? The coronavirus. Of course.
Despite there having been no diagnosis of the virus on Argentine soil, a department of the Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a headline-grabbing statement to judicial employees discouraging the sharing of mate and mobile phones, among other measures, to prevent potential contagion.
Other recommendations include: getting vaccinated for the influenza virus; frequently cleaning air conditioner filters; and washing hands frequently, before and after eating and after physical contact.
The ruling, issued by the Supreme Court's Department of Preventive Medicine and Labour says that it has considered updating recommendations for the prevention of acute respiratory infections, as well as measures aimed at reducing the risk of contagion for judicial employees.
The statement adds that given the Judiciary’s frequent contact with foreigners, it is recommended that they consider the measures of respiratory disease prevention especially with travelers from Wuhan, China.
It is also recommended that all judicial employees consult with their doctor in the face of acute respiratory infection, especially if they have recently travelled to China or if they had contact with a traveller from that area.
The court also suggests: vaccination against pneumococcal; covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing with disposable handkerchief or with the elbow (do people not do this anyway?); not sharing glasses, utensils, or food; and keeping workplaces and common areas supplied with sufficient product for disinfecting hands.
The coronavirus — officially named COVID-19 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) — has infected over 75,000 people globally and has caused over 2,000 deaths. In total, 74,185 diagnoses have been made in mainland China.
The WHO has declared the virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). This declaration means that the outbreak is a serious risk to multiple countries and needs concerted international effort in order to control the disease. A PHEIC also indicates to people in affected countries that the situation is very serious and may help to persuade people to follow public health recommendations.
The PHEIC also serves as a call to action for the global community. It indicates that this is an extremely serious health threat. It also gives the WHO the ability to help increase efforts to control the outbreak.