The latest leap in coronavirus cases has set a new record in Argentina, as the country braces for an expected sharp increase in cases over the coming weeks – despite the full national lockdown declared on March 20.
The total has reached 690 cases and 17 deaths so far, with 101 new cases and five deaths reported Friday.
The capital city of Buenos Aires is the worst hit, with 223 cases, followed by the province of Buenos Aires with 193.
The country locked its borders to its own citizens even more tightly Friday, closing the northern border crossing at Foz de Iguazú to Argentinians trying to enter the country on land from Brazil.
President Alberto Fernández ordered the halt of repatriation flights this week on the suspicion of persons hiding their symptoms by lying about their health and taking paracetamol to lower their fever before boarding planes.
Some 15 thousand Argentinians have been left stranded abroad, mainly in Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, the US, Spain, Italy and the UK.
Repatriations will be considered on a case by case basis, with travelers who left the country after March 13, when the government had already put in place its first measures against the pandemic, to be awarded the lowest priority, authorities said.
A line of cheap credit for small and medium-sized companies having trouble paying wages during the lockdown was announced by Argentina’s national bank, Banco Nación, Friday. The loans carry a yearly interest rate of 24%, high by international standards, but still less than half the country’s annual inflation rate of 50%.