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ARGENTINA | 07-04-2020 16:02

Virus death toll rises to 55 in Argentina, as testing steps up

More than 1,000 tests for Covid-19 now taking place each day, using123 laboratories across the country, says Health Ministry.

A 44-year-old man from Mendoza became Argentina's 55th death from the coronavirus on Tuesday, as the country recorded its second-youngest fatality of the pandemic to date.

The individual, who was not named, had recently travelled to Spain with his wife, officials in Mendoza said. He had been in intensive care at the Hospital del Carmen in Godoy Cruz for the last three days, after admission to hospital on March 27 with symptoms of the virus, including fever.

Mendoza Province has 31 confirmed cases of coronavirus, 26 of whom have a history of recent travel abroad. The other five have been infected after coming into contact with confirmed cases. To date, the region has suffered four fatalities from the virus.

Officials from the national Health Ministry said Monday evening that there are 1,628 confirmed cases of the virus in Argentina. 

Earlier Tuesday, it emerged that Argentina's Ambassador to France, Mario Verón Guerra, had been diagnosed with Covid-19.

Verón Guerra, a Radical Party from Tucumán, was appointed to the post in January 2018 by former president Mauricio Macri but has yet to return to Buenos Aires. President Alberto Fernández recalled a number of envoys via a decree on January 11, giving them 45 days to pack up and return home. However, Verón Guerra has been unable to leave France dure to quarantine restrictions.

Health Ministry officials also said Tuesday that 123 laboratories were now testing for Covid-19 across the country as a result of the government's decentralisation of testing. According to Health Access Secretary Carla Vizzotti, "testing is increasing hand-in-hand with decentralisation."

She said that 11,778 tests had been carried out in Argentina to date, of which 1,069 took place on Monday. More than 9,000 of the tests did not come back positive, Vizzotti confirmed.

President Fernández toured the Malbrán Institute in Buenos Aires on Tuesday with Health Minister Ginés González García, as he visited the site where the majority of tests are analysed.

González García, made brief comments about the potential "lifting" of general quarantine measures, saying such a move "would be irresponsible."

Fernández is expected to extend the nationwide lockdown this week, though the potential loosening of some restrictions is anticipated. The Peronist leader will meet with labour representatives and union leaders at the Olivos presidential residence later today, with local reports suggesting that activity in some sectors – such as public works – may restart next week.

– TIMES/NA

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