Seven months of restrictions have not managed to bend the curve of infections by coronavirus in Argentina, a country that crossed the border of the million cases without having yet seen the light at the end of the tunnel, with 26,716 deceased and an increasingly critical economic and social situation.
According to the latest data from the national Ministry of Health, the southern country accumulates 1,002,662 positives for COVID-19, of which 803,965 have recovered and another 159,695 are confirmed cases that remain active.
In this sense, and taking into account that the average number of daily infections in the last 7 days is 14,133, Argentina is the second Latin American country and the fifth in the world in breaking this numerical barrier.
The restrictions established by the Argentine government on March 20 managed to control the spread of COVID-19: while other countries in the region such as Peru, Chile or Brazil saw the number of cases and deaths grow uncontrollably, during the first months of the pandemic Argentina limited the outbreak to the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires (AMBA), the most densely populated area in the country.
However, the virus managed to cross the borders of the AMBA and it expanded, little by little, through the interior provinces, many of which had left behind the stage of “social, preventive and compulsory isolation” in June to move on to another one of greater flexibility, known as “social, preventive and compulsory distancing”.
All over the country
If in the sixth month of the year the Argentine capital and its populous urban belt concentrated more than 90% of COVID-19 cases, today that percentage is barely 27.5%, so that the provinces represent 72.5% of new coronavirus infections, with Santa Fe, Córdoba and Tucumán in the lead.
In the case of Buenos Aires, the capital reached the “peak” in August and since then the curve has slowly come down of infections, with only 557 positives this Monday, being the only Argentine region, together with the provinces of Salta and Jujuy, where the number of cases plausibly decreased in recent dates.
“The curve is in a slow but systematic decline from the last week of August to the present day,” said Buenos Aires Health Minister Fernán Quirós on Monday.
More deaths per million inhabitants
Currently, Argentina is among the Latin American countries in where the pandemic advances the most, a reality that adds to another even more worrying: the high number of deaths per day since the beginning of September.
In fact, according to the statistical portal Our World in Data, dependent on the University of Oxford, Argentina is the country in the world with the most deaths per million inhabitants in the last seven days, with about 8, ranking well ahead of the Czech Republic (4.76), Israel (4.11), Colombia (3.21), Iran (3.11), Mexico (2.68) and Spain (2, 58).
In this last week, the southern country registered 2,083 deaths from COVID-19, with a daily average of 297 deaths.
Another alarming fact is the current incidence rate (percentage of positives with respect to the total number of tests): since the pandemic began, Argentina made 2,626,406 COVID-19 tests, with a cumulative percentage of positives close to 44%, as noted by the national Ministry of Health in its morning report this Monday.
The figure was even higher this past Sunday, since the number of confirmed cases (10,561) compared to the total tests (13,890) was of 76%, far exceeding the 10% threshold recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) to certify that sufficient testing is being done.
This Monday, 1 were confirmed2,982 new infections.
The pandemic exacerbates the crisis
In any case, the utility is not the only crisis that grips the southern country, plunged since mid-2018 in a recession aggravated by isolation measures imposed to control the pandemic.
The data speaks for itself: the economy plummeted 19.1% year-on-year between April and June, unemployment increased to 13.1% in the same period and the poverty rate exceeded 40% in the first six months of 2020, five points more than at the beginning of this year.
Likewise, Argentina has been facing a increasing exchange rate tension, with a gap between the official dollar and the informal one over 100%, which has raised fears regarding a possible devaluation of the Argentine peso.
All this panorama led the International Monetary Fund to worsen its forecast for 2020 even more: according to the multilateral organization, the Argentine economy will fall 11.8% this year, instead of the 9.9% forecast in June.