Wednesday, August 5, 2020
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ARGENTINA | 31-07-2020 19:00

Government halts easing of virus lockdown for at least two weeks

Officials decide to delay move to further ease confinement measures for at least two more weeks due to the high number of Covid-19 infections and for fear that the health system might collapse.

President Alberto Fernández announced on Friday a halt on the easing of coronavirus lockdown measures due to an increase in new cases and fears the health system could become overwhelmed.

"We will keep things as they are until August 16," said the Peronist leader. "In the last few days the virus has been spreading more and we've seen a larger increase in infections. All this generates hospital admissions and unfortunately deaths."

On Thursday, Argentina registered a record 6,377 new cases and 153 deaths over the previous 24 hours.

Argentina has recorded more than 190,000 cases and over 3,500 deaths.

There are also more than 1,000 people in intensive care with Covid-19, amounting to a 55 percent occupation of those units in the country as a whole and 64.5 percent in the Buenos Aires metropolitan region.

Axel Kicillof, the governor of Buenos Aires Province, said "if the numbers don't come down we'll have to impose a much tougher quarantine because [hospital] beds will fill up."

More than 90 percent of Argentine cases have been in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area.

There had been plans to continue with the gradual easing of lockdown measures by allowing certain individual sports and outdoor exercise from Monday. However, those plans have been put on hold with authorities pleading with citizens to take individual responsibility for containing the spread of the disease.

"The big problem we had in the last two weeks was that we relaxed. We felt that the situation was contained, but that's not the case. It's a long way from being contained," said Fernández.

While many businesses have been allowed to reopen, schools remain closed and sports and shows are still suspended.

– TIMES/AFP

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