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Health

Argentina reports record number of new COVID-19 cases but relaxes lockdown

FILE PHOTO: A cleaning worker is seen at the Dr. Alberto Antranik Eurnekian hospital, in Ezeiza, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina August 21, 2020. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina registered its highest number of new daily COVID-19 cases on Friday as the government partially relaxed nationwide lockdown measures to allow outdoor get-togethers of up to 10 people wearing masks.

Restrictions related to the pandemic in the country started on March 20. The new, more relaxed rules are scheduled to last until at least Sept. 20, President Alberto Fernandez said in a televised address. The country has had 392,009 confirmed cases of the coronavirus so far, 8,271 of which have been fatal.

“Today we can take a new step by authorizing meetings of up to ten people in the open air, maintaining the distance of two meters and the use of a mask. This will be in force throughout the country,” Fernandez said, although his government reported an all-time high 11,717 new cases.

The president said that while COVID-19 statistics in capital city Buenos Aires showed some positive indicators, the number of cases in the rest of the country had grown.

“A month and a half ago 93% of new cases were in the greater Buenos Aires area. In the other provinces it was only 7%. Now in the provinces that percentage has multiplied by five. Today it represents 37% of all cases,” Fernandez said.

The mayor of Buenos Aires said on Friday that starting next week he planned to authorize restaurants to serve customers at outdoor tables and that the city was evaluating the gradual return of construction activity.

Reporting by Maximilian Heath, writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Sandra Maler

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