Covid-19 breaks out in Argentina, focused on its summer vacations

In full summer vacation, Argentina appears as the Latin American country with the highest number of new Covid-19 infections. But without a higher incidence of mortality, the beaches have been filled with tourists eager to put the bad times of quarantine behind them.

Mar del Plata, a traditional summer destination on the Atlantic coast, is experiencing a frenetic season these days, with crowds on the beaches, in nightclubs and also in lines to get tested.

“People want to get out after two years of the pandemic. It’s like revenge. People are letting go. Covid is reaching its final stage, and people have to enjoy themselves, they have to live,” he told AFP. seashore Andrés Gazzola, a 25-year-old medical student.

Argentina had in 2020 one of the lockdowns longest in the world. In 2021 he timidly opened schools, although not universities, and reactivated some economic sectors. Only last November did it open its borders.

Now, on the beach crowded with umbrellas, there are both families who strive to stay in a bubble and groups of young people who proclaim the end of Covid. “The pandemic is over,” Lara Serra laughs. “This is full of people. It’s everything teenagers want,” enthuses her friend Renata Pendino.

Nightclubs, restaurants and hotels are struggling to recover from the bad times in which they were closed for many months. Days in which the city was so lonely that sea lions walked through the squares.

“The bowling alleys (nightclubs) are exploding. There is a beautiful, festive atmosphere, beyond the pandemic that was experienced. There is an energy to have a good time,” summarizes Emiliano Guzmán, a young man who came from the city of San Juan.

case record

But a few meters from the beach, the queue to get swabbed increases. The percentage of positive tests in Mar del Plata is growing day by day and exceeds 62%, according to health authorities, more than the national average of 50% and well above the 10% recommended by the World Health Organization.

Patricia Bogdanowicz, infectologist and pediatrician at the Hospital de Clínicas de Buenos Aires, warns about relaxation in care, especially among young people vaccinated.

“What they do not take into account is that the large number of Covid-19 cases has put the productive apparatus on edge, complete health services that do not work due to the number of isolated doctors, paramedics and nurses,” he told AFP.

With 45 million inhabitants, Argentina has accumulated more than 6.6 million cases of Covid-19, of which 1.1 million have been registered since January 1, and has exceeded 117,600 deaths. Every day breaks record of infections. On Wednesday there were 131,082 with 75 deaths. The occupation of intensive care beds is around 40 percent.

Last June, when the record had been 42,000 cases in one day, there were between 500 and 600 daily deaths for several weeks.

Almost 75% of the population have received two doses of the vaccine and of these, 18% have received a third booster.

“It is difficult to control the Argentine population, it is very difficult to tell them to comply with restrictive measures. The climate is very politicized in the face of the pandemic and if one tries measures, it is possible that demonstrations against them will be generated, which in turn are situations of greater contagion. “Infectologist Luis Cámera, adviser to President Alberto Fernández, told AFP.

recover the economy

The holiday season it was promoted very intensely by the government, which is trying to revive the economy after a 9.9% drop in 2020 and a 10% rebound in 2021.

For this season, it launched the advance program, a financial incentive for consumption in tourist places in Argentina. 4.5 million people joined that plan.

And although infections are multiplying, the government not only refuses to impose new health restrictions but has also relaxed the isolation rules to avoid paralysis.

“Instead of (occupation of) intensive care beds, we are concerned about absenteeism from work,” Health Minister Carla Vizzotti recently declared.

The Argentine Industrial Union asked the government this week to take measures to stop the increase, which reaches 7.5% of the staff, of workers who do not come to work because they have been in close contact with a positive case.

A greater lack of workers has also been reported among health personnel due to isolation by Covid-19.

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