200 Days: The World’s Longest Lockdown Has Failed To Stop COVID-19

“Quaranternity” was only supposed to last two weeks.

When faced with overwhelming data that show lockdowns don’t work to stop the spread of COVID-19, the lockdown advocates’ fallback position is always something along the lines of, “well, they didn’t lock down hard enough!” Yet, even the most drawn out lockdowns in the world are not working whatsoever. The longest lockdown on record, which is approaching 200 days, isn’t stopping COVID-19. Instead, it is producing record numbers of new cases and deaths. It not only has failed spectacularly, it has had the additional side effect of bringing a nation to the brink of economic collapse.

Argentina is currently operating the world’s longest lockdown, which some Argentinians now refer to as “quaranternity.” On Monday, Argentina will hit the 200 days of lockdown milestone.

On March 16, Argentina completely closed its borders to the outside world, and three days later, Buenos Aires imposed a nation-wide, mandatory lockdown. In mid April, they imposed mandatory masking. The lockdown and its accompanying restrictions were only expected to last two weeks time, yet here we are, on day 198 of Argentina’s lockdown, which is scheduled to last until at least October 11. Given the government’s track record of continually extending restrictions (and promising to lift lockdowns, while at the last second, pulling the plug on those ideas), it seems that there’s little to no chance that the restrictions will actually end in a week’s time.

In the Spring, Argentina’s heavy restrictions were hailed as a coronavirus “success story.” The press lavished praised upon Buenos Aires, claiming that lockdown has kept the virus “contained” and “saved lives.”

Notably, the dispatches from the international press celebrating Argentina’s “success” are no longer being published. That’s because the reality on the ground tells us a very different story from the initial narrative being distributed by the media. Yesterday, Argentina recorded a record high number of new cases, and reported 311 COVID-19 related deaths, which is its third highest day on record. 200 days of lockdown doesn’t seem to have done much of anything to protect Argentinians from COVID-19.

“We see a sustained increase ... in relation to the number of cases and the number of deaths," the Health Ministry's Secretary of Access to Health, Carla Vizzotti, told the press on Saturday.

As a direct result of the heavy restrictions imposed by the government, Argentina’s economy has been in total freefall. The country’s economy is forecast to shrink a staggering 12 percent, which is about double the hit projected for neighboring Brazil, which has taken a less restrictive approach to the virus. Economists remain concerned that Argentina, which was already suffering through economic woes prior to the pandemic, is on the brink of total collapse. 

““If SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) collapse, the whole economy collapses,” explained Pedro Cascales, a spokesperson for a major small business federation in Argentina, in an interview with the Financial Times. “The decisions about the lockdown were always made with the advice of doctors, epidemiologists and [infectious diseases experts], but never with SMEs, big business or workers. We could have contributed ideas . . . to prevent an economic collapse,” he added. 

New labor statistics released by Buenos Aires show unemployment has hit a 16 year high.

Almost 200 days into lockdown, Argentinians are suffering more than anyone else from COVID-19. According to its 7 day rolling average, Argentina now has the highest newly confirmed COVID-19 death rate on earth.

Argentina is about to pass 200 days of lockdown, and the country’s leaders have nothing (but negatives) to show for all of the “sacrifice” country forced upon its citizens, in executing a policy premised with stopping the spread of the novel coronavirus. Argentina is one of many coronavirus lockdown “success stories” that has fast transformed into another cautionary tale.

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