Argentina registered a new record number of Covid-19 cases and fatalities on Thursday, with 153 deaths and 6,377 infections in just 24 hours.
The news comes as government officials at the national and provincial level evaluate the next phase of quarantine measures and whether to liberalise or tighten restrictions.
As of Thursday, the country has recorded 185,360 confirmed cases of Covid-19 to date, with 3,441 fatalities. According to Health Ministry records, 80,596 have recovered.
During July, Argentina has seen a surge in Covid-19 numbers. At the beginning of the month, the tally stood at 64,517 infections and 1,307 deaths.
While 90 percent of new cases continue to be recorded in the capital and its heavily populated periphery, government officials have warned that new outbreaks are being reported in most provinces.
"I view the situation with great concern, we have made a great effort in the sense that we do not have to regret more victims, but we have to stand firm a little because this is not working," President Alberto Fernández told Radio Con Vos in an interview on Thursday.
He added that "it is possible that the curve will go down again or that it will go up again, and that has to do with people on the streets, with people meeting, with people having a coffee or sharing an asado."
The president is expected to announce by or on Friday whether the rules in the AMBA region will continue to be relaxed as from August 2, or if lockdown rules will be tightened.
About 1,076 patients with Covid-19 are currently hospitalised in intensive care units (ICUs), with ICU bed occupancy at 55.3 percent nationwide and 64.5 percent in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area (AMBA), which 10 days ago began a programme of a progressive flexibilisation of the mandatory lockdown that's been in force since March 20.
However, at least one specialist group said the situation was worse than that. The Argentine Society of Intensive Therapy (SATI) warned that the ICU bed occupancy rose to around 80 percent on average as of July 24. That claim was based on a survey of 34 public and private health centres in Argentina.