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ARGENTINA | 19-08-2020 22:14

Hospital staff demand greater support as they remember fallen co-workers

Employees at Durand Hospital in the capital demand greater support and better working conditions, as they pay tribute to their health-worker colleagues who died from the novel coronavirus after being infected in the line of duty.

Employees at Carlos G. Durand Hospital in Buenos Aires paid tribute on Tuesday to their health-worker colleagues who died from Covid-19 contagion in the line of duty.

Those attending at the small rally near also warned of a possible collapse of the health system.

"There have been 60 deaths [of health workers] nationwide, two of them at our hospital. The two intensive therapy wards are packed. We’ll be left without staff to attend patients," Héctor Ortiz, a union delegate for nurses, cleaners and other ancillary workers, told the AFP news agency.

Black balloons were let go into the air paying the tribute to the dead, as protesters at the hospital close to Parque Centenario held Argentine flags and posters calling for better pay and working conditions from City Hall, in order to attract assistants trained to replace those missing.

Ortiz asked difficult questions: "Out of 1,800 workers, we have 300 down with Covid-19 and a further 300 on leave for other illnesses or because they belong to risk groups. Who’s going to look after the population if it goes on like this?"

The workers cut traffic on the avenue leading to the Durand, one of the biggest acute care hospitals in the country and attached to the University of Buenos Aires. 

The event took place one day after an anti-government march took place in the centre of the capital and other cities across Argentina. 

"There are 16,668 infected health employees nationwide. We’re stretched to the limit and falling like flies. The health system is on the brink of collapse," said union co-ordinator Rodolfo Arrechea, shouting through a megaphone.

Argentina has a death rate of 115 per million, the third best figure in the region after Uruguay and Paraguay.

Quarantine will continue until at least August 30 although now more flexible in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area, unlike many inland provinces where restrictions are on the rise with intense outbreaks of coronavirus.

Social isolation in the metropolitan area reached 150 days last weekend although there was only strict confinement in the first month.

– TIMES/AFP

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