why the “greatest confinement in the world” is hardly comparable with France

Protesters in front of the Argentinian parliament on November 17, 2020. In Buenos Aires, the confinement lasted for more than seven months.

What is being said in France

On the CNews channel, the president of the Les Patriotes party, Florian Philippot, popularize the argument from the end of October: “It’s the largest confinement in the world: they’ve been in confinement for seven months and you look at their mortality curve, it’s constantly increasing. Every day there are more deaths than the day before, so this is not an example. “ The Argentine situation has since been regularly cited in an attempt to show that containment and control of the epidemic do not necessarily go hand in hand.

What is true

Some Argentines endured the longest lockdown of any country: put in place on March 20, it remained in force until November 29. This did not prevent the epidemic from following an upward slope, with a peak only reached in early autumn and a very slow decline.

The health strategy of Argentine President Alberto Fernandez has drawn strong criticism. While the Argentine economy is bloodless, the country has been agitated for many months by protest movements against these restrictions.

What is incorrect

The generalized confinement of Argentina, as France experienced in spring and then in autumn, only lasted one month, from March 20 to April 26 inclusive, before adaptations on a case-by-case basis. , region by region. As of June 4, 18 of the country’s 24 provinces had thus left thesocial, preventive and compulsory isolation ”, the name of Argentina’s strategy.

Containment ” unending “ which is in question concerns, in fact, only one administrative region of the country, but not the least: that of the metropolitan area of ​​Buenos Aires, the capital, epidemic focus.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Argentina eases containment without reaching peak of epidemic

The sanitary measures applied in the Buenos Aires region have, moreover, varied over time, with reductions (reopening of certain shops and exit permits in June, reopening of bars and restaurants in September) and tightening (return to a strict confinement at the beginning of July), depending on the evolution of the epidemic.

Why the comparison is tricky

The Argentine situation differs profoundly from that in France on several points:

  • In Latin America, the peak of the first wave of the epidemic did not occur in March and April as in Europe, but when temperatures are lowest in the southern hemisphere, that is say in July-August. It is, moreover, the continent most affected in terms of number of cases and deaths.
  • The hospital system’s reception capacities are much lower. While France has 16.3 intensive care beds per 100,000 inhabitants, Argentina is less than 3.3, according to the latest figures from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The intensive care units reached their peak of saturation at the end of September.
  • The Argentine population is concentrated at 91.87% in cities – dense places where the virus proliferates -, against 80.44% in France. One in ten inhabitants live in slums, in precarious economic and hygienic conditions: poverty, overcrowding, limited access to drinking water. It was in one of the most important of them, Villa 31, in the heart of Buenos Aires, that the main source of contamination of the country appeared, with 1,000 cases as of May 19, and mainly with a population economically unable to self-confine that the virus has circulated. As of November 25, according to the newspaper’s count Clarin, Argentina had 1.39 million positive cases and 37,687 deaths, including 20,117 in the metropolitan area of ​​the capital alone.

This article is taken from an already published review of hasty comparisons between restrictions in France and in other countries.

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