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ARGENTINA | 15-12-2021 14:56

Officials preach caution as Argentina sees rise in infections

Argentina's Health Ministry reported 4,555 new cases on Tuesday – the highest daily figure since September and a rise of more than 1,000 on the previous day.

Government officials have warned Argentines to take care after the country reported its highest number of Covid infections in a day for three months.

On Tuesday evening, the National Health Ministry reported 4,555 new cases of Covid-19 – the highest daily figure since September 2. More than 1,800 were in Buenos Aires Province, with 851 in Buenos Aires City.

Officials said 34 fatalities had been recorded over the same period, with occupancy of intensive care beds standing at 35.3 percent nationwide.

Speaking at a press conference, Health Minister Carla Vizzotti called on citizens and residents to take up the offer of booster jabs as soon as possible, in order to reduce the number of hospitalisations and deaths.

“We have been saying since day one that the pandemic has not passed. Vaccines are a key tool but it will not prevent cases from increasing alone,” warned the health official, who said Argentines should be careful during end-of-year festivities.

National Deputy Daniel Gollán on Wednesday called on citizens to do “much more” in terms of preventative measures as he expressed concern over the rise in cases and the Delta and Omicron strains of the virus.

“If we don't comply with these basic premises, we are losing a tool that prevents a lot of transmission," the former Buenos Aires Province health minister said in a radio interview.

"Everyone should finish vaccination with the second and third doses because they provide coverage and it is the only thing we have at hand."

 

New variants

A number of national and provincial officials have expressed concerns over the potential spread of both the Delta and Omicron variants of Covid-19.

Underlining the concerns, Corrientes Province Senator Martín Barrionuevo observed on Tuesday that there had been a 63 percent increase in infections over the last 14 days.

The lawmaker, who throughout the pandemic published reports and graphs on the crisis on his social media accounts, said that in Buenos Aires Province and City infection rates had risen 65 and 86 percent respectively over the past fortnight.

The Buenos Aires City Health Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that it was investigating "two suspected cases of the Ómicron variant," traced to infected individuals who travelled to the United States "during late November and early December."

Argentina’s first positive case of the Omicron variant has now been traced back to a resident of San Luis Province, who arrived back in the country 10 days ago after a trip to South Africa, according to the National Health Ministry.

However, the main outbreak of the more contagious strain is now in Córdoba Province, where four graduation parties at different schools in the capital have resulted in 110 positive cases and 800 individuals ordered to isolate.

Provincial Health Minister Diego Cardozo said Tuesday that "the characteristics of the genome” in the positive tests were “compatible with the Omicron variant."

At least four cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in the town of Colonia Caroya, close contacts of an individual who had recently travelled overseas to Dubai.

Argentina has registered 116,826 deaths and more than 5.36 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 since March 2020, when the virus first arrived in the country.

 

– TIMES/NA

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