Argentina closed off its worst week of the coronavirus pandemic to date yesterday, as the total number of Covid-19 infections in the country soared to 94,060 – a rise of more than 21,000 from the previous week.
In a statement, Health Ministry officials said that 3,367 new cases of the novel coronavirus had been registered over the last 24 hours – a new daily record.
A breakdown of those newly confirmed cases also lent weight to evidence showing that considerably more diagnoses are now being seen in Buenos Aires Province (2,118 new cases) than in Buenos Aires City (1,049 new cases).
Around 33.7 percent were attributed to individuals being in contact with confirmed cases, with 48.2 percent a result of community circulation, officials said.
A total of 54 people lost their lives Friday after being infected with the virus, lifting the death toll in Argentina to 1,774.
The government also confirmed that there are 686 hospitalised patients with Covid-19 in intensive care beds, of which 58.3 percent correspond to the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area (AMBA). In the rest of the country, 51.7 percent of ICU beds are occupied.
Health Access Secretary Carla Vizzotti said on Friday morning that the government was remaining calm in the wake of a sharp rise in infections this week. On Monday, Argentina also recorded its highest daily death toll to date of 75 fatalities.
"In the number of cases we are experiencing an increase, but these cases that we are seeing became infected 14 days ago,” she said. “The measure was taken to restrict mobility until July 17, where there is community transmission."
More than 90 percent of all confirmed cases to date are in the AMBA region, where some 14 million of the country's 44 million inhabitants live. Residents in the region returned to a strict lockdown on July 1 and restrictions will remain in place until at least July 17. Officials will decide what happens next based on the progression of the virus in Argentina.
Speaking yesterday, Buenos Aires Province Governor Axel Kicillof said he was “quite optimistic” about the impact tightened lockdown measures would have on the advance on Covid-19 in the country.
“I am quite optimistic about abiding by the strictest quarantine: mobility has been reduced by all indicators, " he said in statements to Radio AM750, observing that the result of the measures would not fully be known for “10 or 15 days.”
“What we are seeing today, in the tests, are infections that occurred in the last days prior to the stricter quarantine," explained the provincial leader.
He expressed concern, however, that “serious cases are accumulating” and the length of recent hospitalisations.
On Friday, officials from the Buenos Aires City government met to analyse the potential re-opening of shops and businesses in the capital, as well as the potential for residents to leave their homes to exercise.
The meeting was chaired by City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta and lasted more than two and a half hours. One City source told the Télam state news agency afterwards that the curve of contagion would be the prime factor in an eventual decision.
“Today you cannot know what because we are going day by day," said the source.