Argentina virus
People wearing masks, as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus, ride an empty train in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Image Credit: AP

Buenos Aires: Argentina’s government will tighten pandemic restrictions in and around the capital Buenos Aires to rein in a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases, including shutting schools and imposing a curfew from 8pm to limit social activity.

President Alberto Fernández, 62, given his all-clear earlier in the day after he was infected with the virus, said the South American country needed to “gain time” in the fight against COVID-19 after daily cases hit a record this week.

“The virus is attacking us and is far from giving in,” the center-left leader said in a televised address.

The measures will see schools closed in Greater Buenos Aires from Monday, and the suspension of indoor sports, recreational, religious and cultural activities until April 30.

Argentina registered 25,157 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, after hitting a record 27,001 cases on Tuesday. The country has seen a total 2.6 million people infected, with 58,542 deaths.

Rising poverty

Fernandez’s Peronist government had been keen to avoid a blanket lockdown to protect a fragile economic recovery and with poverty rates rising, but has been forced to toughen restrictions by the recent sharp rise in cases.

This week the governor of Buenos Aires province said Argentina was facing “a tsunami” of cases. The opposition mayor of Buenos Aires city has, however, opposed school closures.

In some neighbourhoods of the city, citizens honked car horns and banged on pans to express their disagreement with the measures, local television footage showed.