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Thu Mar 19, 2020, 08:32 PM

Argentina enacts nationwide lockdown, economic stimulus in response to Covid-19 crisis

Argentine President Alberto Fernández announced today that a nationwide lockdown is being enacted, effective midnight tonight.

Most commercial, financial, religious, and tourist establishments are ordered closed until March 31st, as well as a home isolation order for the nation's 45 million people.

Permits will be issued on a need basis, and essential staff and services such as grocery stores, media and health care are exempted.

"If we stay home, there will be less contagion and we will suffer much less," Fernández explained. "We still have many days in which to take care of ourselves, and a battle to fight."

The emergency measure is in response to the ongoing Covid-19 global pandemic, which in Argentina has already reached 128 known cases since March 1st and claimed three lives.

Today's announcement follows a March 15 executive order suspending all public events with audiences or spectators - as well as shutting schools, national parks, and international borders.

A 14-day quarantine had been ordered on March 12 for Argentine residents recently arrived from "high-risk" countries - the source for virtually all the 128 cases known thus far.

These emergency measures are expected to deepen the country's recession - already approaching its third year.

Accordingly, Production Minister Matías Kulfas on March 17 announced price controls and a $7.5 billion stimulus package - including a $5.5 billion credit line for employers, a 3,000-peso ($46) monthly bonus for all retirees and family assistance beneficiaries (some 9 million people between them), and a $1.5 billion public works program.

"Health is not a building"

The public works package includes the construction of 8 modular hospitals to deal with an expected increase of respiratory ailments due to Covid-19, as well as the completion of two general hospitals outside Buenos Aires.

The two hospitals had been built during former President Cristina Kirchner's second term (2011-15), and were to serve La Matanza County - a largely working-class county west of Buenos Aires whose 1.8 million people were among the most underserved in the nation.

But just months from their planned inaugural in 2016, Kirchner's right-wing successor, Mauricio Macri, suspended funding for these hospitals - leaving one empty, and the other functioning as a primary clinic.

When asked about the suspended works on these and five other such facilities in 2017, then-Governor María Vidal replied that "health is not a building."

Macri and Vidal were defeated for re-election last October.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&tab=wT&sl=es&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.telam.com.ar%2Fnotas%2F202003%2F442323-fernandez-olivo-reunion-gobernadores-coronavirus.html

Argentine President Alberto Fernández (right) and Public Works Minister Gabriel Katopodis fly over the Dr. René Favaloro Hospital, west of Buenos Aires.

The hospital, inaugurated in 2015, functioned only as a primary clinic due to recurrent budget cuts under Fernández's right-wing predecessor.

A March 17 executive order frees funds for this and another - but still-vacant - hospital nearby, and eight modular hospitals.

Today's nationwide lockdown - based on similar measures enacted in China, Italy, and Spain - will inevitably deepen the nation's two year-old recession.

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Reply Argentina enacts nationwide lockdown, economic stimulus in response to Covid-19 crisis (Original post)
sandensea Mar 19 OP
Judi Lynn Mar 20 #1
sandensea Mar 20 #2

Response to sandensea (Original post)

Fri Mar 20, 2020, 12:59 AM

1. Macri can't get far enough away from Argentina after all the damage he did. He needs to disappear.

Even with the de-funding of hospitals he matches Trump step for step. I was horrified reading that bit, too.

Helping retirees and helpless poor dependents is going to make a difference in their daily lives, and raise their spirits, too, having seen evidence this decent progressive president is involved in a plan to restore and improve life for the people of the country.

What good news on the eight modular hospitals and completion of two permanent (knock on wood) ones. He got right to work, didn't he?

I can't remember how the first person claimed there got infected. Can you recall if he/she had been to Europe just before?

It's always good to see a photo of President Fernández, and realize Argentina has a chance at recovery now. Best wishes to him.

Thanks, sandensea.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #1)

Fri Mar 20, 2020, 02:29 AM

2. What a challenge for them - and for the rest of us, certainly.

Fernández was indeed wise to restore the Health Ministry upon taking office.

You'll recall that in 2018 Macri had downgraded it to a "secretariat" (the equivalent of an under-secretary here in the U.S.); indeed, during his last month in office, there wasn't even that.

The Health Secretary in 2019, Dr. Adolfo Rubinstein (one of his better picks), resigned in protest over Macri's unwillingness to defend abortion rights even in cases of rape and danger to a mother's health.

Can you imagine if, facing this Covid crisis, they had no Health Ministry!

Of course, merely having a Health Ministry won't be enough: a funding boost is what's needed - and Fernández's emergency order frees up just that.

Even the right-wing opposition (with a few exceptions) is behind him on this. The Mayor of Buenos Aires in particular (always one of the more decent center-rightists down there).

No time for partisanship at a time like this!

Please stay warm and take extra care, Judi. Will do likewise.

All the Best.

P/S: Yes; the first recorded patient (on March 1st) was a 43 year-old man who had just returned from Italy.

All but one of the other 127 cases known this far are from either recent travelers to Europe and (in a few cases) the U.S. - or those who can direct contact with them (usually family).

Two-thirds of the total cases are people who live in or around Buenos Aires, usually middle/upper-middle class people.

As news of the epidemic in Italy spread, it was feared a good number of people would bring it back to Argentina, given how many folks travel to Europe in the Southern Hemisphere Summer months (esp. Italy, France, and Spain).

In this interconnected world of ours, it's inevitable.

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