BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina was expected to surpass 30,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, with currently the fifth-highest daily death toll in the world, according to a Reuters tally.
Argentina, which initiated one of the strictest lockdowns in the world on March 20, has 1,116,609 coronavirus cases, according to government data, though new daily cases have slowed in recent days. Only the United States, India, Brazil and Mexico are reporting more daily deaths.
Capital Buenos Aires and the surrounding area suffered the brunt of infections early on, though infections are now worse in the country's interior, straining areas with fewer resources and health personnel. Intensive care units in the country are at 64.4% capacity, the government said, but hospitals in some provinces are nearing the brink.
"There are places that are working at almost 100%. Rosario, Cordoba, Rio Negro, Neuquen, Mendoza," said Arnaldo Dubin, an intensive care physician in the city of La Plata in Buenos Aires province.
"Eventually, the physical and technology resources can be obtained, but what is not going to change is the health personnel. Training these personnel takes years," Dubin said, stressing that healthcare workers were exhausted as cases were still climbing seven months into the pandemic.
The death toll represents a grim reality for Argentines who widely adopted the tough restrictions imposed by the government, but are now fatigued after months of quarantine.
"The pandemic is, of course, terrible. I have many acquaintances, people my age who died in the pandemic,"
said Basilio Benitez, 67, a painter.
"I have a brother who died. We cannot do anything about the virus until the vaccine is out," said Isidoro Ojeda, a 69-year-old retiree from the district of San Isidro, north of Buenos Aires. "The truth is, it's very sad."
The government has relaxed many restrictions, though travel is still restricted to those with government permission and international tourism is still banned.
(Reporting by Reuters TV; writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by David Gregorio and Alistair Bell)