Argentina to lift almost all Covid restrictions as cases and deaths fall

Masks will no longer be required outdoors as government says country could be at ‘end of pandemic’

Masks will no longer be required outdoors in Argentina as the country’s government announced the lifting of almost all Covid restrictions following a dramatic fall in Covid cases and deaths in recent months.

“If the numbers of coronavirus infections continue like this, we could say we are experiencing the end of the pandemic,” said presidential cabinet chief Juan Manzur amid a flurry of measures including the return of football matches with stadiums at 50% capacity starting next month – just in time for the 3 October classic super-match between Argentina’s two longtime rivals Boca and River Plate teams.

“Today for us the Covid pandemic ends to a large extent,” government Covid adviser Luis Camera said in a radio interview. “The pandemic ends but the virus continues,” he said.

The announcements were met with cautious optimism by doctors on the frontline. “We’re at a very good place: at the hospital where I work we have not admitted a single Covid patient to intensive care for three weeks now – but I would not dare say the pandemic is over,” said intensive care doctor Arnaldo Dubin, a researcher and professor at La Plata University.

After a devastating surge of Covid cases earlier this year, numbers in Argentina have dropped rapidly – from a high of more than 41,000 new daily cases on 27 May to only 622 on Sunday, raising hopes that the Delta variant may have passed Argentina by – at least for the time being.

“Despite evidence of community circulation of the Delta variant it’s been 20 days since we last intubated somebody at our hospital,” said Vanina Edul, an intensive care doctor at the Buenos Aires city Fernández hospital. “We might be lucky and the dominance of the Manaus variant and the high vaccination rate may be keeping the Delta at bay.”

About 43% of Argentina’s population has been fully vaccinated so far. Argentina’s extremely high contagion rate, 5.24m cumulative cases, nearly 12% of the total population, may have provided additional immunity, doctors say.

The lifting of Covid restrictions came after the trouncing of the ruling Peronist party in Argentina’s open primaries on 12 September. In the polls, the more right-wing Juntos coalition, which strongly resisted Covid restrictions, took over 40% of the vote, compared to only about 30% by the Peronists, who as government have enforced highly unpopular restrictions.

With a view to the November midterm legislative elections, the Peronist defeat forced President Alberto Fernández, viewed as a progressive within his party, to replace ministerial posts with more right-wing Peronists, such as the new cabinet chief Manzur, who as former governor of Tucumán in 2019 supported a decision to force an 11-year-old rape victim to give birth via a caesarean section.


Uki Goñi in Buenos Aires

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
‘People die in less than a week’: Covid wave catches Argentina off-guard
Cases have risen from a daily total of about 5,000 in early March to a record 35,000 this week amid relaxed restrictions and a low vaccination rate

Uki Goñi in Buenos Aires

20, May, 2021 @9:30 AM

Article image
Argentina threatens to cancel deal for Sputnik vaccine as Russia fails to deliver
Moscow owes 18.5m doses, leaving Argentina in a ‘very critical situation’ with only 16% fully vaccinated, leaked letter reveals

Uki Goñi in Buenos Aires

22, Jul, 2021 @6:39 PM

Article image
A silent decimation: South America’s losing battle against Covid
Strained and underfunded health systems, economics and misinformation have all led to a surge in deaths

William Costa in Asunción, Uki Goñi in Buenos Aires, Flávia Milhorance in Rio de Janeiro, Dan Collyns and Sam Jones

18, Jun, 2021 @9:00 AM

Article image
'The heart of darkness': neighbors shun Brazil over Covid response
Latin American countries scramble to protect themselves from a country where nearly 60,000 people are expected to die in March alone

Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro Uki Goñi in Buenos Aires and Joe Parkin Daniels in Bogotá

30, Mar, 2021 @1:08 PM

Article image
Covid-19 restrictions are shattering Argentina's short-lived political truce
Deep-seated political resurfacing amid months of lockdowns

Uki Goñi in Buenos Aires

14, Jul, 2020 @9:00 AM

Article image
Lockdowns leave poor Latin Americans with impossible choice: stay home or feed families
Families struggle to maintain coronavirus restrictions as they seek to stay afloat: ‘My fear is my children going hungry’

Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro, Uki Goñi in Buenos Aires, Cindy Jiménez Becerra in La Paz, Lexi Parra in Caracas, Joe Parkin Daniels in Bogotá, and David Agren in Mexico City

21, Apr, 2020 @10:00 AM

Article image
Argentina: human rights outrage at province's 'abusive' quarantine
Formosa has the country’s lowest Covid death rate – but critics say that has been achieved by ‘flagrant, grave’ rights violations

Uki Goñi in Buenos Aires

07, Feb, 2021 @11:00 AM

Article image
'Women in Argentina live in hell': calls for legal abortion grow | Uki Goñi
A groundswell of support for Argentinian women to be allowed terminations in the early weeks of pregnancy could soon culminate in a change to the law

Uki Goñi in Buenos Aires

14, Mar, 2018 @12:12 PM

Article image
Argentina legalizing abortion will spur reform in Latin America, minister says
‘I am very confident there will be a change,’ Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta says as new law goes into effect

Uki Goñi in Buenos Aires

14, Jan, 2021 @8:39 PM

Article image
Argentina: hundreds of thousands of women set to protest against violence
Organizers urge women to stop work and other activities for an hour in Wednesday ‘women’s strike’ following rape and torture of a 16-year-old girl

Uki Goñi in Buenos Aires

19, Oct, 2016 @8:15 AM