‘We are drowning’: Argentines struggle with COVID-19 as death toll approaches 100,000
CORDOBA / BUENOS AIRES, July 14 (Reuters) – At the cemetery of San Vicente in Cordoba, central Argentina, Sandra del Valle Pereyra, 50, came to visit the graves of her parents who both died of COVID-19 that has torn apart across the South American nation.
“I was left alone,” Valle Pereyra told Reuters, saying she and her siblings were isolating themselves from each other to avoid contagion. “First my mother died, then my father. I don’t know what to think about this terrible disease.
Argentina has been one of the hardest-hit countries in the region in terms of cases and deaths per capita, with some 4.7 million confirmed infections and the number of deaths from the pandemic expected to exceed 100,000 people later Wednesday. (Case and death graph)
The average number of daily cases has declined from a peak last month and the occupancy rate of intensive care beds is declining, although it remains above 60% nationwide.
“Every life that has gone missing is a great regret for me,” President Alberto Fernandez said in a speech last week. “I guarantee you that during these months we will not stop vaccinating every Argentine man and woman.”
While developed countries like the United States have reduced the number of deaths through rapid vaccination programs, countries in South America lead the rankings of cases and daily deaths per capita, with vaccine roll-out being blocked by slow supply.
Argentina, a country of about 45 million people, has carried out more than 25 million vaccines, although only 5 million people are inoculated with the two full doses, mainly using the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, AstraZeneca vaccine (AZN.L) and Chinese Sinopharm vaccine (1099 .HK).
The vaccine rollout raises hopes the country can control the pandemic, but the most contagious Delta variant is triggering outbreaks of cases, even in countries like Israel with high vaccination rates, forcing them to rethink their vaccination campaigns. Read more
‘LOVERS CALL US CRYING’
The pandemic has worsened an already existing economic crisis in Argentina, which has largely been in recession since 2018 with soaring inflation, strict capital controls and a weak peso currency causing dollars to outflow.
“It is not only the pandemic that is drowning us in this country. There is also the enormous economic crisis,” said Gastón Rusichi, 34, of a team of firefighters in Cordoba who took charge of the transfer of the dead during the pandemic.
“Many relatives call us crying, not only because of death, but because they do not have the money (…) to be able to give a funeral as a person deserves”, added Rusichi, who works 12 hour shifts in a biohazard safety suit.
Argentina’s government reimposed lockdown measures earlier this year amid a second wave of infections, some of which have since been canceled. It has a strict cap on border arrivals in an effort to prevent contagious virus variants.
Ezequiel González, a 35-year-old worker from Tigre, a suburb of Buenos Aires, said it was difficult to see how the country could have stopped the pandemic given the need to balance restrictions while battling it. increase in poverty levels.
“We should all have locked ourselves up completely and it is very difficult. You have to go out into the streets to earn money to be able to eat and survive,” he said.
A local laboratory is now starting to produce Sputnik V to speed up inoculations and the country recently reached an agreement for 20 million doses of Moderna vaccine (MRNA.O). Read more
Lautaro Fabian Gomez, 20, however, said lax attitudes of some people going out in crowded areas without wearing masks made it easier to improve.
“It makes me very angry and helpless,” he said. “It seems to me that if this is the way we act, we will have the coronavirus here until 2050.”
Reporting by Agustín Marcarian and Miguel Lo Bianco; Written by Lucila Sigal; Editing by Nicolas Misculin, Adam Jourdan and Lisa Shumaker
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.