Argentina extends lockdown in Buenos Aires as coronavirus cases surpass 20,000

FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a protective face mask walks past Puente de la Mujer during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Buenos Aires, Argentina May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina extended on Thursday a mandatory lockdown in Buenos Aires, the capital, and some other parts of the country until June 28, as confirmed coronavirus cases continue to rise, surpassing 20,000 earlier in the day.

The three-week extension of the lockdown, which had been due to expire June 7, will impact the capital city, the province of Buenos Aires and some other areas that account for the highest concentration of confirmed infections, President Alberto Fernandez said during a press conference. The rest of the country will move to a phase of “mandatory and preventive social distancing.”

The next phase will include new permissions, including outdoor exercise during certain hours in the city of Buenos Aires, which has the highest concentration of cases, officials said.

Argentina recorded 929 new infections on Thursday, one of the highest daily counts since the pandemic began. The country has 20,197 cases, mostly in the city Buenos Aires and the province of Buenos Aires. The death toll is at 608.

“Our results are still good, but we have not yet overcome the problem,” Fernandez said.

Argentina has been under mandatory lockdown since March 20, though officials already relaxed restrictions in some areas of the country. Argentina has a commercial flight ban until Sept. 1, one of the world’s strictest travel measures during the pandemic.

Reporting by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler