Argentina has registered 614 new deaths from covid-19 this Wednesday and exceeds 100,000 deaths since the pandemic began. The data, released by the Ministry of Health, places Argentina among the ten countries in the world with the highest number of deaths per million inhabitants, which represents a setback for the Government of Alberto Fernández in this 2021 election.
The South American country has crossed this symbolic barrier as it faces a second wave more lethal than last year and accelerates the immunization campaign. To date, more than 45% of the Argentine population has received one dose of the vaccine and 11% both.
South America is the region most affected by the coronavirus in deaths per million inhabitants. Within it, Argentina is in fourth place, behind Peru, Brazil and Colombia. As in most countries, the elderly population has had the worst part: more than half of the deceased have been people who had exceeded 70 years. The fear of the new disease has also kept them isolated from their loved ones for months, with serious disorders for their physical and mental health.
With the appearance of the first cases, the Government of Alberto Fernández imposed strict isolation in March 2020 that managed to delay the spread of the disease and had a broad social and political consensus. When the country reached the peak of the first wave, during the southern winter of 2020, the health system had had time to strengthen itself and a hospital collapse similar to that seen in Spain, Italy, Peru and Ecuador, among others, was avoided.
However, the prolongation of the quarantine and its enormous impact on an economy that was already dragging on for two years of economic crisis began to crack the initial support at the same time that the number of cases rose and the coronavirus spread throughout all the country’s provinces. As the months passed, political differences in the handling of the pandemic increased and subsequent scandals such as the VIP vaccination program that operated in the Ministry of Health eroded trust in the Government.
“I prefer to have 10% more poor people and not 100,000 dead in Argentina,” said the Argentine president in an interview published in April 2020. Now his words have turned against him. Argentina suffered a historic 9.9% drop in GDP in 2020 due in large part to harsh restrictions, but even so these have not prevented the country from regretting a high number of deaths.
Most of the deaths have been registered during the second wave that began last April, of a much higher virulence than the first. The new strains are more contagious and wreak havoc on the respiratory system more quickly than the former, according to local infectologists and hospital managers who have been forced to confront situations they did not experience in 2020, such as bedless patients in intensive care and hospital staff. exhausted health after more than a year without truce. In May, several consecutive days were registered with more than 700 daily deaths, a record since the beginning of the pandemic, and the Government again applied new measures, such as a drastic decrease in the number of passengers authorized to enter the country, a night curfew, temporary prohibition of indoor activities and the reduction of gastronomic business hours, among others. The measures have slowed the number of infections, but compliance is much lower than it was months ago and the discomfort continues to increase.
The opposition has increased criticism against the center-left Peronist government for the management of the pandemic, especially for the suspension of face-to-face classes and its impact on children, adolescents and families and the slow start of the vaccination campaign. Four months before the legislative elections – in which half of the Chamber of Deputies and a third of the Senate are renewed – the fight against the coronavirus and economic recovery are foreseen as central axes of the electoral campaign.
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