Argentina, facing a second wave of Covid-19, needs “three weeks of greater effort" by citizens and institutions to reduce infections, Health Minister Carla Vizzotti declared Tuesday morning.
We need intensive, transitory, early and timely measures, without impacting on trade and production and as little as possible on education," Vizzotti said at a press conference.
The minister assured that the second wave is already here, describing it as “already a fact” and adding that the government may have to take measures to avoid a collapse of the health system.
"Society is waiting for recommendations," she said.
Vizzotti said that Argentina needed to “accelerate the vaccination of those at greatest risk” from the virus, in order to lower fatalities.
National, provincial and regional governments are holding meetings to agree on new preventive measures and restrictions, particularly in large urban centres, she confirmed.
"Although we are vaccinating, we must reduce viral transmission," emphasised Vizzoti.
Late Tuesday afternoon, national government officials are due to meet with representatives from Buenos Aires City and Province to discuss next steps. Around 15 million Argentines live in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area (AMBA).
"We have tension in some regions in the health system," said Vizzotti.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Argentine Association of Respiratory Medicine warned that "the possibility of a health collapse is real."
"The vaccination rate is not fast enough to contain a second wave, unless the population voluntarily decides to restrict risk behaviours and adopt distancing measures, while accepting the vaccines that are offered," the group said in a statement to the press.
Vizzotti said the government wanted to ramp up vaccine efforts, targeting at-risk individuals between 18 and 56 and all those aged over 60. Those sectors of the population amount to some 15 million people, she added.
According to the minister, 55.6 percent of those over 80 years old have already been vaccinated with at least one dose, as well as 40.7 percent of those between 70 and 79 years old. Among health personnel, around 90 percent have already been vaccinated with a first dose and 60 percent with two.
So far, Argentina has taken delivery of 7.2 million doses of the Sputnik V, Sinopharm, Covishield and AstraZeneca vaccines. Around two million of those arrived last week.
Some 4.4 million doses have been administered to 3.7 million Argentines, among whom almost 700,000 have received a second dose.
On Monday, 13,667 new cases of coronavirus were reported over the preceding 24 hours, with a total of 2,407,159 infections and a daily record in the capital of 2,428 infections. There were 272 new deaths, which brought the overall toll to 56,471.