“People need to be a little more aware and know that the hospitals are full and that health personnel are exhausted,” said Luciana Berti, a 41-year-old surgical assistant.

The South American grains producer, which has gone through three straight years of recession, worsened by the pandemic, is balancing the need to stem the spread of the virus while protecting a fragile economic recovery.

Marcela Cid, owner of a business on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, said that Argentines were increasingly “locked into a situation” that while necessary, was of little help to anyone trying to move beyond the pandemic.

Argentine paediatrician Carlos Kambourian said that the key would be speeding up a stalled vaccination campaign. Otherwise, he warned, hospitals would be overwhelmed. Intensive care beds are about 68.1% occupied nationally, government data show.

“Today the health system does not support one more patient,” Kambourian said. “It is already overflowing.”

“We can continue to extend measures every 15 days from here until two years from now if we don’t do what needs to be done, which is to test and vaccinate, test and vaccinate,” he said. 

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