Covid Live Updates: US sets one-day record with nearly half a million new cases

Credit…Agustin Marcarian / Reuters

A few weeks ago, many Argentines thought the worst of the pandemic was behind them. Cases had dropped, vaccination rates were high, and intensive care units filled up had plenty of beds left over. The President’s Spokeswoman, Gabriela Cerruti, tweeted in mid-November that “the pandemic is over.”

Then came Christmas time.

What had been a steady stream of new cases rose last week – and the numbers keep rising. It marks a surprising turnaround for Argentina and raises questions about what should happen to other countries in South America, a region that has already suffered much during the pandemic.

Source: Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The daily average is calculated with data reported in the last seven days.

Led by Brazil, which has the world’s second highest death toll, and Peru, which had an even higher mortality rate per capita. per capita, South America was the epicenter of the pandemic earlier this year. However, infections fell sharply as vaccination rates rose.

“There is a real risk of a regional increase,” said Dr. Sylvain Aldighieri, event manager for Covid-19 for the Pan American Health Organization, a division of the World Health Organization.

Covid-19 cases have also risen steadily in Bolivia, with signs of a potential increase in Uruguay and Paraguay.

Although South America is in the middle of summer, where people spend more time outdoors, the holidays also bring an increase in travel. And there “has really been a decline in the implementation of social distancing measures,” said Dr. Aldighieri.

In Argentina, both the Delta variant and the highly contagious Omicron variant are circulating, officials said, though Delta remains prevalent.

Omicron has been discovered in 25 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean, but it will be weeks before its potential impact across the region becomes clear, said Dr. Aldighieri and added that genomic sequencing is limited in many countries and Omicron will coexist with other variants.

Over the past week in Argentina, an average of 15,690 new cases have been reported daily, according to data collected by The New York Times. From Monday to Tuesday, 33,902 new cases were reported, the highest number since June 2. according to the Ministry of Health. The city of Buenos Aires and the central province of C├│rdoba, which has been particularly hard hit, reported their highest numbers since the pandemic began.

Test centers were almost empty just a few weeks ago. Now the queues are long and the positivity rate is approaching a staggering 30 percent, according to figures from the Ministry of Health.

Despite the sharp rise in cases, President Alberto Fern├índez has on Tuesday rejected the possibility of imposing mobility restrictions at the height of the summer holidays. The country endured one of the world’s most severe quarantines early in the pandemic.

So far, officials are optimistic that the growing number of cases has not been translated into overflowing intensive care units and higher death rates.

“Compared to other waves, the number we have now is less than 1,000 people in intensive care units, and the number of deaths is very stable,” said Health Minister Carla Vizzotti. in a radio interview Tuesday and pressured citizens to be vaccinated as the best way to combat the increase.

Although South America got off to a later start than large parts of the world by inoculating its population, it now has a higher vaccination rate than Europe, North America and Asia and significantly lower vaccine skepticism.

Chile has fully vaccinated 87 percent of its population, one of the highest rates in the world. Argentina’s population is now 72 percent fully vaccinated, and Brazil’s is 68 percent. By comparison, the United States has fully vaccinated 62 percent of its population.

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