Graphic: COVID-19 clusters raise alarms in slums
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Local and national authorities have for long feared that slums and prisons could turn into hot spots of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the latest news seem to confirm those instincts were right.
The conflicts in prisons have come in hand with the first reported COVID-19 deaths from people living in slums, where poverty, overcrowding and poor hygiene conditions add massive difficulties to prevent the spread of the virus. Buenos Aires City government organized a special operative to trace contacts of the first detected cases in the slums this week, and the results caused the highest spike in detection since the start of the pandemic.
More than 90 percent of the cases announced yesterday in the city came from the slums and people linked to it, many of them from the Villa 31 near Buenos Aires’ Retiro train and bus terminal.
That slum’s closeness to the epicenter of the pandemic in the city means its odds of contagion might have been higher, and the media and political attention usually given to the Villa 31 might also mean that it was looked at earlier than similar places in the area, but eventually those risks will travel to the rest of Buenos Aires City and Greater Buenos Aires, where roughly a third of Argentines live. Targeted tests in the slums of the province might eventually yield similar results, so although yesterday’s spike could be a one-off thing, there could also be similar days ahead as the state strengthens its testing in vulnerable sectors.
While Argentina has so far done well in containing the pandemic, the danger of the contagion curve taking off is still there, particularly through its most economically at-risk groups.