Argentina on Tuesday registered 33,902 new cases of Covid-19, with infections now nearing record numbers in what experts have dubbed the country’s “third wave.”
Despite the surge in recent weeks however, there has been no significant increase in hospitalisations, according to the Health Ministry.
Argentina has seen a huge surge in infections over the last eight days, with numbers increasing during the holiday season. On December 20 the country recorded 5,337 infections, and since then cases have been rising steadily, exceeding 20,000 on Monday.
On Tuesday, long queues of people have been forming outside hospitals and testing centres around the nation’s capital, Buenos Aires, as porteños waited in line to be tested.
While officials have called on citizens and residents to take extra precautions, with 73 percent of its 45 million inhabitants fully vaccinated, 10 percent of whom have received a third booster dose, President Alberto Fernández has said new health restrictions will not be re-imposed.
"We have extended [the presidential decree declaring a] the health emergency, but there will be no new measures," the Peronist leader said on Tuesday. "If the problem of new infections is not so serious, it is because Argentines were responsible and got vaccinated.”
Over the last 24 hours, just 20 deaths from Covid were reported. Intensive care wards nationwide are at 34 percent capacity for all types of pathologies.
The new Omicron variant of Covid-19, which is believed to be a more contagious but less severe disease when compared to previous strains, has been present in Argentina for a few weeks. Health Minister Carla Vizzotti has said that it will likely lead to a significant spoke in infections.
"Cases are going to be high. If they are Omicron and they are mild, we have to work on a new paradigm," she said, referring to the current rules regarding preventative isolation.
Since the pandemic began in Argentina in March 2020, some 5.5 million people have been infected, with more than 117,000 have died.
US travel warning
Authorities in the United States warned US citizens not to travel to Argentina on Tuesday, adding the country to a list of “level three high-risk” destinations for travel.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that all individuals should be “fully vaccinated before travelling to Argentina," while saying that unvaccinated US citizens should "avoid non-essential travel."
"Due to the current situation in Argentina, all travellers may be at risk of contracting and spreading variants of Covid-19," read the CDC warning, which asked travellers to wear face masks and observe social distancing.