With five beds and four doctors per 1,000 inhabitants, Argentina is one of the best-equipped countries in a region averaging 2.2 per 1,000 in both categories.
There are 8,000 beds in intensive care wards but only 70 percent are operational with an artificial respirator, a monitor and the medical and nursing staff to cover them, Rosa Reina, the president of the Argentine Society of Intensive Therapy, told AFP.
“When facing pandemics on this scale, nothing is enough,” warned Diego Tipping, the Red Cross director in Argentina. “Preventive action is the most important. That usually takes the form of a vaccine but since there is none [for Covid-19], it’s the social norm of isolation,” Tipping stressed.
In the eyes of the specialists, the early declaration of quarantine should help Argentina.
“My impression is that they got it right,” considered the immunologist Jorge Geffner, a professor at the University of Buenos Aires and a CONICET (national scientific research council) researcher.
“With very few cases detected [56 with two deaths at the time] classes were suspended [on March 16], with total isolation declared almost at once [on March 20] when the infected had climbed to 128 with three deaths. I think we were much more timely than other countries in facing up to the problem,” he stressed.
Geffner nevertheless highlights the need to decentralise testing, a process already underway.
Reina points out that confinement will not make the infection go away “because the dissemination and contagion continue. But at least it will slow down the inflow into hospitals, giving us time to organise and attend them.”
Meanwhile, the government has started testing treatments also being tried out elsewhere in the world like administering the anti-malaria drug chloroquine. Health Minister Ginés González García has declared that until now the results have been “mildly positive.”
But Geffner assures that “this will end because a vaccine will be found. The whole world is working for one. There’s a horizon for a solution.”