Argentina’s coronavirus crisis deepened on Thursday as the Health Ministry reported a new daily record of 41,080 new infections in 24 hours. Officials also reported 551 new fatalities, taking the death toll past 76,000.
The country has been hit by a wave of cases in recent days, with daily caseloads regularly surpassing 30,000. Argentina, a country of some 45 million people, has now recorded 3,663,215 confirmed cases of Covid-19 since March 2020.
The recent acceleration of cases and the high daily death tolls from Covid prompted President Alberto Fernández to last week order a strict nine-day period of confinement (which started last Saturday) to protect the health system.
"We will see the consequences of this week's confinement next week – surely the rates we see this week will continue," warned Mario Lugones, the head of the Fundación Sanatorio Güemes in Buenos Aires on Thursday.
According to official data, occupation of intensive care units (ICUs) nationwide stands at 76.2 percent, taking into account both the public and private sectors. The figure stands at 77.5 percent in the heavily populated Buenos Aires metropolitan area (AMBA), where roughly a third of the country resides.
As normal, the majority of new infections were registered in Buenos Aires Province (15,550), followed by the provinces of Córdoba (4,933) and Santa Fe (3,542). Buenos Aires City, the nation's capital, reported 3,093 new cases.
The government is hoping tightened restrictions on circulation will buy the health system time while its mass vaccination programme advances.
Some nine million people – roughly 20 percent of the population – have received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose to date. Of those, 2.5 million have received two doses or completed the vaccination process, according to official data.
Over the past week, the government has taken delivery of close to 2.8 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, mostly the AstraZeneca-Oxford and Sputnik V shots.
On Monday, 843,000 AstraZeneca vaccines arrived (the first manufactured with an active ingredient produced in Argentina), followed by a further 657,600 doses via the World Health Organization's Covax scheme. On Wednesday, 470,035 shots of the Russian-made Sputnik V jab arrived.
A total of 12.6 million doses have already distributed throughout the country, the government said in a statement on Thursday.
Cabinet Chief Santiago Cafiero said Wednesday that the government is continuing to work to acquire as many vaccines as possible.
Health Ministry officials recently travelled to Havana to learn more about the development of two of the four shots being produced by Cuba.
Cafiero revealed that Argentina had reached an agreement with the Chinese laboratory Cansino Bio regarding its one-dose jab, though details were thin on the ground.