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Montevideo, June 20th 2021 - 12:51 UTC



Argentina: Buenos Aires prepares for stricter measures against Covid-19

Tuesday, April 27th 2021 - 09:01 UTC
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Gollán bets on tougher measures for fifteen days Gollán bets on tougher measures for fifteen days

A group of advisers to the Argentine President assessed the coronavirus situation Monday, after which further restrictive measures to be announced shortly appear inevitable.

The last time Cabinet Chief Santiago Cafiero and Health Minister, Carla Vizzotti, held a work meeting at the Casa Rosada with various infectious disease experts that is exactly what happened. It would be unreasonable to believe the same group of experts would have different “solutions.” It shall be up to the President to decide whether to follow their advice and to which extent.

The presidential emergency decree (DNU) which imposed the latest restrictions onto the Buenos Aires Metropolitan (AMBA) area expires on April 30. However, those restrictions included the suspension of on-site schooling to which the City of Buenos Aires (CABA) turned a blind eye and went on as per its own plans in a case for which the Federal Supreme Court has claimed original jurisdiction and should be making a ruling in the next few days.

Thus, President Alberto Fernandez risks the very little political authority he has left if he chooses to sign another DNU which might bear no actual impact on the around two million people who live in CABA. At the least, Fernández can end up either disregarded by the people or overruled by the Supreme Court. Or both.

There is a completely different scenario in those municipalities which are in the Province of Buenos Aires within AMBA but outside CABA, where Governor Axel Kiciloff is of Fernández' same political alliance and would not dare question his decisions.

There is a calm-before-the-storm feeling in CABA. Rumour has it -and has been having it for quite a while now- that everything is to go back to phase 1 (full quarantine) as of Wednesday but in a way harsher than that of 2020, despite the feeling at the Casa Rosada Monday afternoon was that no decision would be known until next Thursday.

The government needs desperate measures to curb both rampant inflation and a soaring US dollar, together with the coronavirus. Last week, both major political forces agreed to postpone this year's elections by one month due to the pandemic.

Vizzotti is to meet Tuesday with provincial Health Ministers, while Fernández will discuss the issue with the governors.

Daniel Gollán, Health Minister of the Province of Buenos Aires, considered that it would be necessary “a drastic measure of at least 15 days” that includes “a very strong closure of movement of people,” while his CABA colleague Fernán Quirós suggested it would be wiser to wait and evaluate the impact of Fernández's previous DNU before making new decisions. Quirós acknowledged, however, that if cases do not decrease, new measures will have to be taken to restrict circulation.

Occupancy of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds in AMBA is said to be at 80%.

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