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ARGENTINA | 11-04-2020 09:25

Fernández extends nationwide lockdown until April 26

‘No-one knows when this martyrdom will end,’ declares president as he extends nationwide lockdown until April 27 ‘on same terms.’ More than 80 fatalities now recorded from Covid-19, as number of confirmed cases nears 2,000.

President Alberto Fernández has extended Argentina’s nationwide lockdown for another two weeks, with the majority of citizens now asked to remain home until April 26 in a bid to tackle the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Health Ministry confirmed Friday evening that 81 new cases of Covid-19 had been confirmed within Argentine territory, lifting the total number to 1,975 – just shy of the 2,000 mark. In a statement, the government said that 40 percent of cases were now considered imported, with 34 percent a result of close contact with an individual with Covid-19. A further 14.7 percent were a result of “community transmission,” with the remainder still under investigation.

Officials also confirmed that three more fatalities had been recorded (an 87-year-old woman in Buenos Aires City; a 66-year-old man in Río Negro Province; a 67-year-old man in Buenos Aires Province), lifting the death toll to 82.Speaking at a night-time press conference at the Olivos presidential residence, Fernández announced that the quarantine would continue “on the same terms” for large cities and urban centres.

e added, however, that there would be a “limited” relaxation of some measures, with some sectors of industry and commerce allowed to return to activity. Which ones would become known tomorrow morning, the president added, when his emergency DNU decree is published.

The mandatory lockdown for citizens would last “until April 26 inclusive,” he announced, saying he would “speak again” on or near that date. “We are going to enter into what I define as a ‘managed quarantine’ and we are going to consult with governors about which places in their provinces may resume activities.”

He left open the possibility of extending the quarantine, saying that ‘to-one knows when this martyrdom will end.”

Using a PowerPoint presentation to illustrate the success of the measures to date, the Frente de Todos leader said that the comparatively low level of infections recorded in Argentina was proof that the measures were working.

“We all have to understand that this enormous effort makes sense, that it was not in vain, that it has allowed us to save the lives of many Argentines,” he declared.

On Friday, the total number of worldwide deaths exceeded 100,000, with 1.6 million confirmed cases across the globe.

In neighbouring Brazil, the hardest-hit country in the region, officials said they passed the mark of 1,000 deaths on Friday. The Health Ministry’s latest figures gave a toll of 19,638 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 1,057 deaths.

According to AFP, Latin America and the Caribbean has more than 50,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with more than 2,000 deaths recorded. The news agency based its tally on information from national governments and the World Health Organisation.

Fernández held a videoconference meeting with the Grupo de ‘No-one knows when this martyrdom will end,’ declares president as he extends nationwide lockdown until April 27 ‘on same terms.’ More than 80 fatalities now recorded from Covid-19, as number of confirmed cases nears 2,000. Puebla on Friday to analyse the regional situation. “The good that we can take away from this tragedy is that nobody can save themselves alone,” he told his progressive regional soulmates.

“One of the biggest tragedies which capitalism has caused is the lack of solidarity in growth,” maintained Fernández, speaking from the Olivos presidential residence.

“Only an organised society can overcome this crisis,” insisted the Peronist leader. Mexico’s Alicia Bárcena, the executive secretary of CEPAL (the Spanish acronym for the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, a UN agency) underlined that “economic solidarity is required” in this context.

NO SURPRISE

The decision to extend the nationwide lockdown was no surprise, with all official spokesman and the president briefing from Wednesday on that “the quarantine will continue.”

Fernández was still fine-tuning details of the post-Easter lockdown up until Friday, after having met the previous day with Cabinet Chief Santiago Cafiero, Legal and Technical Secretary Vilma Ibarra, Economy Minister Martín Guzmán and other ministers, as well as listening to reports from experts in self-isolation with applause for those “who work silently.”

Cafiero was the first to meet him on Thursday to pin down the extent of the compulsory social quarantine against the coronavirus pandemic after analysing technical reports from the Health Ministry and other portfolios on quarantine results. After 3pm it was Guzmán’s turn for a one-on-one, followed by the main meeting with key ministers. During the meeting Health Minister Ginés González García published a photo on his Twitter account with the caption: “Analysing the results of the compulsory preventive social isolation.”

The meeting, lasting over four hours, included the ministers Matías Kulfas (Productive Development) and Eduardo “Wado” de Pedro (Interior) as well as González García, Guzmán, Cafiero and Vilma Ibarra, entrusted with drafting the new decree to extend the quarantine.

The president also found time on Thursday to meet a small group of persons – a doctor, a janitor, a bank clerk, a greengrocer and a laboratory – undertaking various activities to counter coronavirus, thanking them for their “important work” and praising “the commitment of those who silently go out on the streets every day so that the rest of us can stay at home,” posting a video with images of the meeting to his Twitter account.

Fernández added: “This is not the fight of a president nor a government but of everybody.”

“Together we are joined in such a tragic situation and it is a good opportunity for us to think, reflect and realise that the day after, when this is over, we can do some things better,” he stressed.

In conclusion, he quoted the María Elena Walsh song ‘La cigarra’ – “Tantas veces nos caemos y tantas veces nos levantamos (“We fell down so often and so often we got up again”).”

“We’ll get up once more, fundamentally because there are Argentines like you. Thank you and don’t let up,” he declared.

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