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Argentina records 100,000 virus deaths as Delta variant looms

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) – Argentina on Wednesday reported more than 100,000 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic, a blow to a country that has intermittently imposed some of the world’s toughest lockdowns , only to see a lot of erratic compliance.

Some 614 people have died of the disease in the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 100,250, the health ministry said.

“I feel bad, it’s not what we thought would happen. … This is a difficult statistic, very difficult, ”said Luis Cámera, a doctor specializing in gerontology and advisor on the pandemic to the government of President Alberto Fernández.

Cámera attributed the heavy toll to “some errors” in the periodic lockdowns as well as the damage inflicted by the virus variants that swept through the region.

“The Argentine quarantine was extended on paper but not on the way people behaved,” Cámera said.

He was referring to large gatherings of people who defied social distancing guidelines and may have helped spread the virus in late 2020. There have been protests against the death of football star Diego Maradona and approval. by Congress of a law allowing abortion in most cases.

Cámera added that a second wave of coronavirus in late March “came sooner than it should have,” in part “due to people’s misconduct and with new, very aggressive variants.”

In addition, Argentina was in economic difficulty even before the pandemic and many citizens were ignoring quarantine rules in order to be able to earn a living and provide for their families.

Then, restrictions on gatherings were relaxed during Argentina’s southern hemisphere Christmas and summer holidays, encouraging people to let their guard down and spend time together. The vaccination effort has also fallen behind schedule.

The United States has confirmed the highest number of deaths from COVID-19 with around 608,000, followed by Brazil (536,000), India (411,000), Mexico (235,000) and Peru (195 000). France, Russia, Britain, Italy and Colombia have each reported well over 100,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

The center said about 4,052,000 people worldwide have died from COVID-19. The death toll is believed to be much higher in many countries due to misdiagnoses, inadequate testing and other factors.

Argentina has reported more than 4.6 million coronavirus infections. Doctors say many of those who die are between 40 and 60 years old and were infected about two months ago, before they had a chance to get the vaccine. The longer the hospital stay, the greater the risk of health complications and death.

Edgardo Alvites Guerrero, head of intensive therapy at Llavallol Hospital in Buenos Aires, said the pace of the first doses of various vaccines has advanced well lately.

But, he said, “this is far from ideal” because it would be better if most people received two doses of the vaccine before the expected spread of the more contagious Delta variant.

So far, 15 cases of the delta variant of the coronavirus have been identified in Argentina and have been linked to “international travelers” or people related to them, according to the health ministry. Nine cases were detected last week and originated from the United States, Mexico and Paraguay.

Argentina has about 45 million inhabitants. Some 20.6 million people received a first dose of the three types of vaccines available – Sputnik, AstraZeneca and Sinopharm – and about 5.1 million received two doses, according to official figures.

“Expect a new wave to come … we are calm before the storm,” said therapist Gubby Auza while monitoring several COVID-19 patients in an intensive care room in Llavallol. They were all under 60 years old.

Argentina’s Paola Almirón was hospitalized last year with COVID-19 and survived. Her mother, sister, aunt and brother-in-law died from the disease. On Tuesday, she cried as she visited a cemetery to lay flowers on the graves of her missing family members, a year after their funerals.

“My mother died first, two days later my sister and three days later my aunt. It was terrible going to the cemetery with my brother three times in a week, ”said Almirón, 38, nurse supervisor at the Luisa Cravenna Interzonal General Hospital in Gandulfo in the town of Lomas de Zamora, south of Buenos Aires. Areas.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Almirón said she feels some satisfaction every time she vaccinates someone against COVID-19 and hopes people will observe the masking and social distancing until the pandemic. calms down.

“We’ve waited so long,” she says. “We locked ourselves in, we went out, we locked ourselves in again; let’s wait a little longer, in a few months we should all be vaccinated and be fine. ″

Erica Gill

The author Erica Gill

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