Alberto Fernández has already resolved to extend the mandatory quarantine that is currently in force from March 20 to 31. Assume that this presidential decision will cause discomfort and boredom in society, and that it will deepen the economic crisis that is already going through the entire productive apparatus. But he explained in the fifth of Olivos – where he is being held – that it is the only tool he has to contain the implacable advance of the coronavirus in the Federal Capital and the Conurbano and determine with scientific rank if the curve of the pandemic will flatten or grow – as supposed- from May.
Alberto Fernández has already defined a tentative term for the second stage of the mandatory quarantine: it would go from 1 ′ to April 13.
The choice of those two weeks was not a sudden and accidental event. The president made the decision after reading more than a dozen scientific essays and journalistic notes published in the local and international press, and having an almost infinite succession of conversations with Santiago Cafiero, Gustavo Beliz, Ginés González García, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, Axel Kicillof, Juan Pablo Biondi, Wado de Pedro, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Giuseppe Conte (Italian premier), Pedro Sánchez (head of the Spanish Government) and Dr Maureen Birmingham, ambassador of the World Health Organization in Argentina.
With the sum of the texts read and the arguments heard, Alberto Fernández established a theoretical explanation that serves to support his possible institutional decision to extend the mandatory quarantine from the first to the thirteenth of April.
That Cartesian argument can be broken down as follows:
one. In order to contain the spread of the coronavirus and know its true level of spread, it is necessary to keep the population in compulsory quarantine for 14 consecutive days. This is what the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends.
two. The 14 days expire on April 3. Therefore, in fact, if you want to know the levels of contagion in Argentina, the quarantine should be extended – yes or yes – until April 3 included. That is: the 11 days of the original quarantine -20 to 31 March-, plus the remaining three days to complete the two weeks recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
3. So the meaning of quarantine is to flatten the curve and determine the level of contagion. And for this, an important number of tests are necessary throughout the country. A reliable report of the number of cases is processed in -at least- four days in a row. This statistical table would allow deciding the next steps in the face of the pandemic.
Four. In the presidential calendar, the 14 days of quarantine are fulfilled on April 3. And it takes another four days to determine if the curve flattened or went upwards as it did in Spain and Italy. Alberto Fernández would receive that dossier on April 8 at the Olivos farm. It is already Holy Thursday.
5. The April 8 report – tentative date – will let the president know how the mandatory quarantine worked. If limiting social contact is the key, and that goal was met in general terms, the growth level of the coronavirus will show its real ferocity and the likely damage it will do in the coming weeks.
6. Alberto Fernández has no doubts that the number of infected will grow amid the extension of the quarantine. It is an obvious fact: the tests will multiply and it will be colder. Two circumstances that play in favor of the growth of the pandemic curve.
7. If the presidential schedule is met, Alberto Fernández has the possibility of lifting the quarantine during the Holy Week weekend (Thursday, April 9 through Sunday, April 12). I would not do it.
8. The head of state considers that the peak of the pandemic will be in early May. So there is no point in facilitating or anticipating that probable event by allowing free movement in public spaces during that long holiday.
Due to this logical succession of facts and circumstances, which he analyzed over and over again in Olivos, Alberto Fernández would have decided that the mandatory quarantine should be extended from April 1 to April 13.
Regardless of the extension of the second stage of the mandatory quarantine, the President will decide this weekend whether to maintain the exceptions provided for in his latest Decree of Need and Urgency (DNU), or if you propose variables by activity or regions.
“I don’t have it defined yet”, Alberto Fernández answered when asked if he could exclude from the quarantine provinces that do not have infections or certain sectors of production that do not activate or multiply the spread of the coronavirus.
“For now, be cautious. Everything is very delicate, and we cannot make mistakes to hurry ”, the head of state concluded.