Alarm as 64 COVID-19 cases detected in Buenos Aires slum in 3 days

Buenos Aires, May 8 (efe-epa).- Argentina reported Friday that in a three-day operation in Villa 31, one of the most crowded informal settlements in Buenos Aires, 64 people tested positive for COVID-19 out of 119 tests performed – about 60 percent – heightening fears about the spread of infection.

“It shows the immense importance that the recommendation to all jurisdictions to work in the early detection of symptoms is important at this time,” said Health Access Secretary Carla Vizzotti in a daily press conference on the epidemic.

Last week, the first cases of COVID-19 started showing up in Villa 31, in the center of Buenos Aires and where it is estimated that close to 40,000 people live, and so the government and the local authorities implemented a special program in the neighborhood.

The operation, called “Detectar,” also reached the La Paz neighborhood in the Buenos Aires town of Quilmes, where the 12 tests carried out all returned negative results.

In Villa 31, Vizzotti reported that in total they visited 394 homes, in which 1,211 people were interviewed who said they had been in close contact with the first confirmed cases, and among them the current 64 positives were found.

On Thursday only, they visited 123 homes in which 348 people were interviewed, of whom 49 underwent testing for the virus as they “met the case definition.”

Of these, 16 people tested positive, 11 were negative and 22 are still awaiting results.

Vizzotti highlighted that the health operation was “a great job with the participation of social organizations and neighbors.”

The health access secretary also said her main objective was “to carry out isolation in an intermediate place to minimize transmission,” so that new case numbers could be “stable.”

In places such as Villa 31 and in the other poorer communities in the capital and the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires, it is frequent that many people live in the same house and sanitation conditions can be poor.

In addition, in these informal settlements, it is more difficult to control the lockdown that has been in force in the country since Mar. 20, and the streets of Villa 31 continue to be busy with people, although sanitation by the authorities in the areas where the cases were detected is evident. Argentina has so far reported 5,371 confirmed cases of coronavirus, of which 285 have died. Of the total number of infections, 1,583 correspond to the city of Buenos Aires. EFE-EPA


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