Health

Argentina approaches second wave, awaits new shipment of Russian vaccine

Buenos Aires, Mar 25 (efe-epa).- Since the beginning of March, Argentina has been experiencing an increase in Covid-19 infections and is moving into what appears to be a second wave of the virus, according to the Buenos Aires city government on Thursday, as the country awaits the arrival of a jet carrying Russian vaccine to use in its slow vaccination campaign.

“We have no doubt that we’ll have a second wave ahead,” Buenos Aires city Health Minister Fernan Quiros said Thursday at a press conference.

“Since the beginning of March, we’ve seen clearly that week to week there’s been an increase in cases that has continued,” he added, with the Argentine capital currently having an average of 830 new infections per day.

Argentina experienced a peak in its daily cases on Oct. 21, 2020, with 18,326 confirmed cases detected on that day, and later it suffered a resurgence during the yearend holidays and early January which then receded until the last week of February.

On Wednesday, though, the country registered 8,300 new coronavirus cases, up from an average of 7,350 per day last week, bringing the nation’s total caseload so far to 2,269,877 and with the death toll standing at 54,946.

The South American nation, with its population of about 45 million, launched its Covid-19 vaccination campaign in late December and has already received just under 4.9 million doses of vaccines from various suppliers.

This is a figure slightly lower than what the country expected to have on hand by this time of the year and the national government admitted that there have been delays in the vaccination schedule, which it blames on delays in shipments from providers.

On Thursday morning, an Aerolineas Argentinas flight departed from Russia carrying a new shipment of Sputnik V vaccine.

Quiros said that “certainly” on Friday a “definitive decision” will emerge from the debate among the health ministers of the country’s 24 jurisdictions working jointly with experts from the National Immunization Commission.

“There’s a certain amount of favorable consideration, above all because of the scientific evidence that has appeared in the last two weeks, that it’s appropriate … to postpone the second dose (of a two-dose vaccine like Sputnik V) and expand the vaccination base for the first dose,” he said.

But he warned that each of the several vaccines that Argentina has received is being discussed separately by the authorities.

The government is also internally debating measures to discourage travel abroad to minimize the chances that the virus could enter the country from areas abroad where there are increases in infections and where new variants of the virus are circulating.

Quiros noted the need to “avoid to the maximum the new strains” that “are in the bordering countries, above all Brazil.”

National Health Minister Carla Vizzotti, meanwhile, ruled out harsh quarantine measures such as the ones imposed a year ago, saying on Wednesday that if an increase in cases is noted measures such as “reducing the circulation of people” could be implemented.

Quiros said that inasmuch as the oncoming second wave’s infection curve can be reduced, the more probable it will be “to keep life as normal as possible.”

EFE

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