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Argentina has extended a nationwide lockdown to April 26 amid signs shelter-in-place measures imposed to curb the coronavirus outbreak have succeeded in flattening the rate of infections.
The country will maintain a quarantine in large urban centers, President Alberto Fernandez said Friday. Officials will also work with provinces to identify rural or small towns where activities will be allowed to continue as part of an “administered quarantine.” Borders will remain closed.
The country’s lockdown, originally meant for March 20-31, had been extended until April 12. Fernandez said the rate at which cases double is now every 10 days, down significantly from its peak of every three days, thanks to the strict lockdown.
“This policy makes sense,” Fernandez told reporters at the presidential residence. “No one knows when this agony will end, so it makes sense to keep doing what we’re doing.”
Still, authorities have faced pressure from business groups and unions to gradually reopen to limit the toll on the economy. The government will allow some businesses to reopen, such as auto-repair shops, and will consider exceptions for people with disabilities. Banks will reopen to the public on April 13 with several restrictions, including the need to schedule an appointment.
Officials may also loosen the lockdown to allow citizens to exercise outdoors.
Fernandez didn’t say whether more virus tests would be available, or whether there was a change in policy on testing. Countries across the region have been criticized for a lack of testing.
Argentina added 81 new confirmed cases of the virus on Friday, boosting the number to 1,975, with 82 fatalities, according to a report. Earlier in the day, China President Xi Jinping offered Fernandez help to fight the pandemic, local newspaper Clarin reported.
The country has been monitoring the whereabouts of some 200,000 people who arrived from abroad in the past 28 days, particularly in large urban centers, the president said.
— With assistance by Valentina Fuentes
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