Health Ministry officials confirmed that confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus had exceeded 30,000 in Argentina on Saturday, after a new daily record of infections was recorded.
A new high of 1,531 positive cases detected in one day brought the total number recorded since the pandemic began in March to 30,295.
To date, 815 fatalities have been registered, officials said.
"I am an optimist and I don't like to say it, but I think the worst is yet to come," Health Minister Ginés González García said in an interview with Ámbito Financiero.
President Alberto Fernández ordered a mandatory nationwide lockdown for all citizens on March 20 to tackle the spread of the pandemic. Though restrictions have been loosened in most provinces, the Buenos Aires metropolitan area (AMBA – the capital and the 13 districts surrounding it), those living in and around Buenos Aires continue under lockdown.
Saturday was the 86th day of mandatory lockdown for citizens living in and around the capital, though measures for some businesses have been relaxed and recreational outings have also been authorised.
In 18 of Argentina's 23 provinces, there is currently no community circulation of the coronavirus. Though concerts, sporting events, shows and large gatherings will remain banned for the foreseeable future, most activities in those regions will gradually return to normal in the next few months, officials say.
"Although some provinces do not have quarantine, AMBA is an expansion system for other inhabitants and we have to be careful, because we will foot the bill for what we do today within [the next] 14 days," said González García.
Officials say that 9,083 people so far have recovered after testing positive for Covid-19.
Other areas that have struggled with the coronavirus are the northern province of Chaco and Córdoba City and its surroundings, where strict measures remain in place.
"If necessary, we go back," warned the health minister. "The availability of [intensive care] beds today is not a variable because there are [enough], but it is the evolution of positive cases in the capital and the first ring" of the Conurbano, said González Garcia.
President Alberto Fernández's government has extended isolation measures in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area until at least June 28. An extension to that ruling is likely, especially in and around the capital, where the number of cases in accelerating.
González Garcia was also questioned about the potential return of football matches, a proposal the veteran minister rebuffed.
"You cannot think of enabling them, neither in the AMBA nor in the rest of the country," he said.
"We are going to try not to squander what we have achieved so far," said González Garcia.