Argentina extends curfew as Covid-19 cases rise

Buenos Aires (AFP) –


Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez on Friday extended by three weeks a nightly coronavirus curfew for Buenos Aires, and said he would seek to compel the city to close schools.

Fernandez had ordered schools in the capital and its surroundings closed two weeks ago, but opposition mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta went to court to stop this from happening.

The court has yet to rule, but in the meantime in-person schooling has continued.

Warning of difficult weeks to come, Fernandez said Friday he would send a bill to Congress to give him and state governors greater power to enforce infection-control measures.

"The measures against the pandemic are strictly to save lives. The rules we put in place must be complied with equally by all," the president said.

He said the country needed a "more marked and sustained reduction" in cases, and warned that the coming weeks "may be very difficult" with pressure on limited intensive care beds.

The country of 45 million has registered nearly three million infections and more than 63,000 deaths to date.

More than 5,300 people are receiving intensive care for coronavirus complications, representing 68.4 percent of beds available nationally, and 76.6 percent in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area.

An 8:00 pm-6:00 am curfew will be in place for Buenos Aires until May 21.

The country has to date given at least one vaccine dose to 7.86 million people.

Fernandez also announced he would boost economic assistance with an injection of some $3 million for the country in recession since 2018.