Yesterday, President Alberto Fernández unfrozen the usual photo of the beginning of the pandemic and received the head of the City Government, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, and the Buenos Aires governor Axel Kicillof at the Olivos Presidential House. The meeting was shorter than those at the beginning of the strict quarantine, but it marks the concern that exists at the top of political power about an increase in coronavirus cases that were expected later.
The three leaders agreed that there is a relaxation as a result of the general tiredness of the citizens and an equivocal feeling that the worst of the pandemic is over. The yellow lights came on when massive concentrations began to take place in public spaces, such as the farewell to Diego Maradona in downtown Buenos Aires and the River caravan two years before the Madrid final, and they turned red last week, when the curve accelerated again after the Christmas meetings and the traditional dinners to say goodbye to the year.
Yesterday, December 30, the Ministry of Health of the Nation reported that 145 new deaths and 11,765 positive cases were registered, numbers that are well above what was expected for this time of year. If some scenes that were seen at dawn on the 25th are repeated tonight in the New Year celebrations, the authorities rule out that the numbers will be even higher next week.
The Minister of Health of the City of Buenos Aires, Fernán Quirós, stated in his last press conference that we will have to wait the next few days to understand the scope of the statistical phenomenon. There are two variants: it could be a seasonal rebound as a result of the typical December encounters, or it could definitely mark the beginning of the second wave that weeks ago began to rage in Europe.
For now, the Federal Capital Health team began to go through days similar to those of June, when the positives of COVID increased and the possibility of loosening the quarantine was not yet in sight. Beyond the numbers and the results of the PCR tests, there are indications that serve to graph the situation: the long lines returned to the testing centers, the consultations in the guards increased and even the journalistic requirement of reports with authorities begins to assimilate to the most complex days of the pandemic.
In CABA, the increase in positives was very evident in the last week of the year. Yesterday, there were 1076 cases. On the first day of the month, the positives were 391. There were days with even fewer cases during December. The moving average used by Minister Quirós to provide an overview of the progress of the disease, also shows the acceleration.
The Ministry of Health of the Nation noticed in the middle of the month that the country was reaching the end of a window during which new infections were more controlled than during other stages of the pandemic. Although the country is very large and each region has its peculiarities, most of the provinces reached the highest degree of commercial openness since the pandemic began.
Waiting for more Russian vaccines to arrive and while negotiations are being held with China and especially with Oxford / Astrazaneca, the Government is realistic about the arrival of the outbreak: “It happened in Europe, it is happening in the countries around us, why Isn’t it going to happen to us? ”they reflect.
There is an issue that particularly worries the authorities and it is the overflow of adolescents. It applies for the coronavirus, but also for sexually transmitted diseases. Young people are reluctant to wear masks and respect social distancing. The parties – less and less clandestine – multiply day after day.
“They are not afraid of getting sick because they think that covid is a minor cold, that it will not even tickle them, but what they do not take into account is that they are vectors that can end up infecting their parents, grandparents and all those that surround them”, Summarize the specialists. “The pandemic punctured,” they repeat. But the reality is that the pandemic not only spike, but will remain in effect for several more months
The more than 11 thousand positive cases on Tuesday and Wednesday are similar numbers to those of the beginning of November. In the graph, it is clear how the contagion columns began to gain momentum after having been for a few days in a valley. The first wave in Argentina began with more cases in the Metropolitan Area. Yesterday, Santa Fe (1307), Córdoba (763) and Chubut (538) were the provinces with the most cases behind Buenos Aires and CABA.
The acceleration of the curve also worries the Buenos Aires authorities. Although publicly they are very optimistic about the start of the vaccination campaign, indoors they understand that you have to grit your teeth. For this reason, at the end of last week they decided to go back with a decision that had already been made: the enabling of parties for 200 people. “No new activities will be enabled but it can be reversed, people relaxed the controls and, if the cases continue to increase, we will have to take a more drastic measure”, said Kicillof’s chief of staff, Carlos Bianco.
“We are not to close anything for now, but we want to give a strong warning for the general relaxation,” they specified. Infobae from the Buenos Aires governorate. In addition, they clarified: “We depend on social behaviors, compliance with protocols and care.” In the province of Buenos Aires, where cases dropped to 1,000 per day and today they are at 4,000, they argue that in principle the idea is to strengthen communication and monitor infections.
The situation on the Atlantic Coast, where the largest number of visitors is expected as of tomorrow, is one of the main concerns.
The governor was one of the visible faces at the beginning of the immunization plan. The president is not in the subgroup of people who should first receive the vaccine according to the recommendations of the Ministry of Health of the Nation, which asked to privilege health professionals who are in the first line of battle against coronavirus. However, the causes that mobilized him to the San Martín Hospital were not strictly sanitary. The photo of Kicillof receiving the vaccine sought to clear up the doubts that exist in public opinion about Sputnik V.
Kicillof is 49 years old and does not have comorbidities that expose him especially to the coronavirus, but his vaccination was not intended to protect his health, but to raise awareness in the population about the importance of the campaign that began this Tuesday in Argentina and will continue throughout 2021. In fact, he was not the only president who adopted this strategy: Gustavo Valdes (Currents), Sergio Ziliotto (La Pampa) and Omar Gutierrez (Neuquén) also released images receiving the first dose of Sputnik V.
The Buenos Aires government has another view on the subject. The head of government, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, was not at the Argerich Hospital -there the campaign began in CABA- and he does not plan to be vaccinated in the coming days. “The strategy indicated by the Ministry of Health indicates that in this first stage, health workers exposed to COVID care should be prioritized, regardless of whether Horacio is not a member of any of the risk groups”, They specified in their environment.
The Minister of Health of the City of Buenos Aires, Fernán Quirós, does not plan to be immunized either. Last week, when asked about the issue, he gave a similar explanation: he said that in this first stage the injections should be applied to therapists, doctors, nurses and other members of the health personnel who are in daily contact with infected patients . In fact, your office is convinced that there cannot be a better citizen awareness plan than that.
Unlike other countries, Argentina maintained a high number of deaths per day, which is why some specialists are inclined to believe that the first wave never ended. Others speak, like the head of Epidemiology at the Ricardo Gutiérrez Children’s Hospital, Andrea Gentile, speaks of a regrowth: “The increase in cases is very frank. The downward curve did not reach the level we expected. The behavior of the community that began to be seen in December did not help the cause so without a doubt we are facing a regrowth”.
Gabriela Piovano, infectologist at the Hospital Muñiz, the first part of the disease in Argentina has not yet finished: “The numbers that were falling, the intensive therapies that were recently running out, began to be occupied again. We could probably define it as a regrowth if everything continues along the same lines ”.
For the medical specialist in internal medicine and infectology, Maria Fernanda Rombini (MN 97087), there is a clear worrying increase in cases: “Although we never reached the number 0 of infections, we had a plateau of decreasing cases. In the last few days, the rules have been relaxed. Between the marches, clandestine parties, weekend trips, among others. We are rapidly reaching the highest numbers we have seen for months. It is time to act with the utmost rigor the norms and protect our elders ”.
Identifying cases and tracing close contacts remains the main strategy that, according to Gentile, to travel this regrowth in good conditions. “We must continue to work hard in each jurisdiction. Despite having started vaccination, we are far from having a number of vaccinated that can reverse this situation.”, He emphasized.
Recently, Argentina resumed restrictive measures, mainly at its borders to prevent the entry into the country of people from nations where a more contagious strain of coronavirus began to circulate. The decision is in line with the policies of countries in the region such as Chile, Colombia and Uruguay.
Yesterday, there were no announcements of new provisions after the meeting at Casa Rosada. The meeting sought to be a message in itself. It is a warning to society. That the people decode the message as a sign of the concern in the three governments about the increase in cases and the lack of individual responsibility. For now there will be no restrictive measures.
At Casa Rosada they know that there is not much room to apply restrictive measures. Those that are carried out must be focused so that their fulfillment can be effective. People are exhausted from the restraints but, at the same time, have entered a state of relaxation that health authorities have long perceived.
With information from Joaquín Mugica Díaz and Agustina D’Ambra
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