BUENOS AIRES – Argentina is already contending with the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and authorities at all levels of government are working on “localized, intensive and temporary” measures to reduce mobility and expedite vaccination of people over 60, the health minister said on Tuesday.
“With this sustained and accelerating increase in the number of cases, the second wave is a fact,” Carla Vizzotti told a press conference.
She added, however, that the situation in Argentina did “not exceed the global context,” pointing to surges in case numbers in the Northern Hemisphere and strains on the health care systems in neighboring South American countries.
Vizzotti spoke ahead of a meeting set for later Tuesday among officials from the national government, Buenos Aires province and the municipality of Buenos Aires to determine the next steps.
In finalizing the approach to the second wave, she said, authorities will strive to avoid limiting economic activity or impinging on individual exercise and recreation, “taking into account society’s fatigue” with the pandemic.
Policy-makers also want to avoid closing schools just weeks after the resumption of in-person classes, the health minister said.
Argentina set a new record for additional coronavirus infections in a 24-hour period with 20,870. The total number of cases since the start of the pandemic stands at 2.4 million, while the death toll is 56,471.
Vizzotti appealed to Argentines to act responsibly, labeling as “false” the notion that young, healthy people are not at risk.
Amid ongoing delays with vaccine deliveries from abroad, the Argentine government has decided to delay giving second doses to people who have gotten the first dose in the interest of administering the initial dose to as much of the population as possible before the onset of winter in the Southern Hemisphere.
To date, Argentina, a nation of 45 million, has received 7.27 million vaccine doses and administered 4.4 million, according to official figures.
More than 90 percent of health care workers have received at least one dose and nearly 60 percent are fully vaccinated, Vizzotti said.
Roughly 56 percent of people 80 and older have gotten the first dose, along with 40.7 percent of the 70-79 age cohort.
Vizzotti, herself a physician, said that Argentina’s health system has made great strides in the last 13 months, increasing intensive care beds by 50 percent and the number of ventilators by 60 percent.