Buenos Aires City Health Minister Fernán Quirós has warned that a new wave of Covid-19 cases could appear in the coming weeks, coinciding with the arrival of colder weather in Argentina.
“We are in a transition period toward the situation of a new common virus, with the possibility of a wave of cases as the cold sets in,” said Quirós.
“They will not be as serious, there will not be as many hospitalisations as last year,” he affirmed with regard to the number of infections and the occupation level of intensive care units in the capital.
The coronavirus pandemic has been mostly absent from Argentina's news agenda in recent weeks, with cases now at a relatively low level.
On Monday evening, authorities reported 1,590 cases over the preceding 24 hours nationwide, with just 380 in Buenos Aires City, the nation's capital.
Argentina has recorded more than nine million infections and 128,000 deaths since the outbreak of the virus.
Use of masks and testing
Despite the improved data, Quirós said on Monday that porteños should continue to wear facemasks where appropriate.
“We still recommend required use of masks in enclosed spaces,” he declared.
For children, he reminded, “we have allowed them not to use masks on a mandatory basis because they need to recover” normal life in schools after two years.
On the other hand, he asked adults to “continue making an effort to wear a mask every time we can wear one.”
In that sense, Quirós added that people who present symptoms compatible with coronavirus should get tested.
“Together with the national government and the 24 other jurisdictions, we are setting up sentinel centres where they systematically test to get an early warning,” in case of a greater circulation of the virus.
Respiratory viruses from the cold
“We are now entering a period of circulation of respiratory viruses,” the City Hall official affirmed, while stating that “many of us are more susceptible to respiratory viruses because we haven’t been exposed.”
“The flu vaccine is released for at-risk groups,” he said.
“If you have symptoms, take care of yourself and protect yourself, if you can stay home, all the better, and if you go out, use a mask and take precautions,” Quirós insisted.
Lastly, he mentioned that a measles outbreak has appeared in various countries around the world, and, with regard to this situation, recommended getting vaccinated against this viral infection.
“The use of masks, especially when we have symptoms, is a change of habits that probably, for many, is here to stay,” he concluded.
Lessening travel restrictions
The opposition minister's comments were made just days after national migration officials announced that Argentine citizens and foreign travellers would no longer be required to sign a Covid-19 affidavit to leave the country. However, the requirement to sign the document upon entry to the country will remain in effect.
This government's decision had been anticipated by National Migration Director Florencia Carignano, who framed the measure as part of a simplification of Covid-19 requirements that has been taking place in recent weeks.
“We continue to simplify travel requirements. It will no longer be required to fill out the affidavit to leave the country. The same data will now be consigned by an inspector during the migratory process,” explained Carignano in a post on Twitter.
In recent days, the government announced the normalisation of entry into the country with the full opening of 237 entry and exit points, by land, river, sea, and air, returning to pre-pandemic conditions.
The measure foresees the elimination of the categories of “safe corridors” and consequently PCR test and vaccination requirements for entry, after two years of pandemic-related restrictions.