The Argentine government has made its move to protect its most vulnerable demographic from the COVID-19 pandemic: its elderly. In a news conference, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez urged people who are over 65 years old to “stay home, where it’s calm, to enjoy their homes,” putting emphasis on medical experts’ advice that the coronavirus poses greater risks to older people.
Argentina has an estimated 10,000 people over the age of 100. As of 18 March, the country has had 79 infections – 14 of which were new – and two deaths. The country also has a generally older population with strong links to Italy and other parts of Europe, adding to its worries.
Fernandez said that workers over the age of 60 – barring healthcare professionals – are allowed to take paid leave from their jobs. Banks, medical centres and other establishments were also instructed to set specific hours of attention for older people. Groceries have started opening earlier for the elderly and banks have made adjustments to ensure retirees can continue claiming their pensions.
Latin America has a relatively low number of reported cases of COVID-19 and the disease arrived in the region much later than other areas. But now that the virus is starting to spread there, infections have increased significantly over the past days. Many countries – Argentina included – have closed borders and implemented quarantines alongside other restrictions that generally limit the movement of people.