The President of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, announced this Friday a new extension, until at least July 17, of the quarantine that has been in force since March 20 in various areas of the country, especially the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires (AMBA) , where the measures are going to be tightened due to a rapid increase in cases.
“On July 1 we are going to take a more severe step. We are going to ask everyone to isolate themselves at home and only go out to look for provisions that are necessary for daily life,” said President Alberto Fernández, in a recorded message. in which he showed himself, as usual but this time without access to the press, with the mayor of Buenos Aires, the opposition Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, and the governor of the Buenos Aires province, Axel Kicillof.
The focus of the measures will focus on the capital and its populous urban belt -the largest productive hub in the country, which encompasses more than 14 million people-, which accumulate 22,746 and 24,645 of the total infected, respectively.
Reference was also made to the Chaco (north), the third most affected district, with 1,755, while in much of the rest of the country the situation is more controlled and an opening stage is maintained.
ISOLATE THE CAPITAL
The president stressed that as the “problem” is in the AMBA, it is necessary to “make an enormous effort” to isolate that area to preserve the health of its inhabitants and “be in solidarity with the rest of the country,” since he warned that since There, the spread to other provinces by people who traveled to the capital has spread, which has made the map of the country “much more dotted” at this time.
That is why, since Wednesday, the departures that were authorized in the last extension of the quarantine to go for a walk, run or go by bike will be reversed, although the departures with children will be maintained on weekends, and again they will only be able to open the establishments considered essential.
Likewise, only basic services workers will be able to use public transport starting next Monday.
“There are almost 100 days of quarantine. I know that it is hard and generates a lot of anguish for everyone (…) Now, I am also convinced that this quarantine prevented us from collapsing the health system as it happened in many countries around the world,” he said. Rodríguez Larreta.
MORE THAN 1,100 DEAD
Since the first case of coronavirus in Argentina was known on March 3, according to the latest data, 52,457 people have been infected, of whom 18,416 have already recovered and there are 1,167 deaths.
Although the numbers are not critical, in recent weeks there has been a rapid increase in the curve, mainly in Buenos Aires and its suburbs, and the authorities have been warning that if the quarantine in that area is not tightened, it could lead to sanitary collapse. .
“We are noticing that with this acceleration (of cases) we have to do something to stop the contagion rate, alleviate occupied beds and continue to guarantee that all Argentines have the attention they deserve,” Fernández said.
So far, intensive care beds are at 48.3% occupancy across the country, with a total of 472 patients, while in the capital and its surroundings it has already reached 54.1%.
COMPARISONS WITH BRAZIL AND CHILE
The president insisted that everything done in these three months “was not useless”, because it enabled the health system to be prepared, he compared, with charts, the situation in Argentina with other countries.
“If Argentina had followed the rhythm of Brazil today, it would have 10,000 deaths. (…) Look Chile, it has a third of the inhabitants of Argentina, look at the difference, 10 times more deaths for every million inhabitants,” he emphasized.
“Alberto Fernández never fell in love with the quarantine. It is a remedy for the pandemic, the only one we know. What we are in love with is life,” he added, referring to those who charge against the duration of the isolation and its economic consequences.
THE EFFECTS ON THE ECONOMY
The beginning of the isolation in March almost completely paralyzed the already battered Argentine economy, which has been in recession for two years, and although various sectors have opened up over the weeks, the effects of the coronavirus have only deepened the crisis: the Gross Domestic Product fell 5.4% in the first quarter of the year and the unemployment rate rose to 10.4%.
Added to this is a foreseeable increase in poverty levels (at the end of 2019 it already affected 35.5% of the population) and the context of uncertainty due to the country’s already extensive negotiations with its creditors to restructure almost 70,000 million dollars. of external debt.
“For many, what we are arranging is to prolong a problem that has economic consequences, but I want to be frank. The World Bank says it is the most serious economic crisis since 1870,” said Fernández to stress that this is a global problem and not only from Argentina.
In reference to the economic forecasts released this week by the International Monetary Fund, the head of state said that they established that “many countries that were liberated and had a different criterion than quarantine” had “exactly the same” results as Argentina, although they valued that “when you look at the dead, Argentina distinguishes itself from the rest”.
After acknowledging that the decisions to extend the quarantine “have an economic consequence”, Fernández reiterated that the Government will continue to help workers and companies in the most affected areas, through public subsidies.
“The support that the State has given (so far) to the private sector so that it does not hurt the pandemic so much, almost touches 3 points of the gross domestic product,” he stressed.