Sat, 19 Sep 2020

BUENOS AIRES, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- Argentina's government has not ruled out tightening lockdown restrictions in force since March 20 if a rise in novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infections threatens to overwhelm hospitals, a top official said on Monday.

Argentina's Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers Santiago Cafiero said officials were waiting to see what the statistics show before making a decision.

"We have to finish collecting the data from today, tomorrow and Wednesday to see where we stand. The pandemic has the world on its knees, it is not an Argentine invention," he said in an interview with a local radio station in Buenos Aires.

Social distancing and mandatory self-isolation measures due to end on Aug. 16 could be extended, he indicated, adding President Alberto Fernandez was expected to make an announcement on Friday.

"We are going to evaluate not only the number of cases, but also the occupation of (intensive) care units, how stressed the healthcare system is, how we see the work of all the medical or health teams, a good general overview, and based on all of these variables, we will make a single diagnosis," said Cafiero.

Some 87 percent of Argentina's productive activities have resumed around the country, but cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, he said.

"If we have to turn back (to broader measures) or we have to be stricter, we will. We have to be clear, we are going to continue to care for the lives of Argentines," Cafiero stressed.

Argentina registered its first case of COVID-19 on March 3, and has since reported 246,499 cases of infection and 4,634 deaths.

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