The President of Uruguay, Luis Lacalle Pou, said on Tuesday that he wasn’t in favor of “total confinement or compulsory quarantine” as a method to prevent the spread of COVID-19 cases in the South American country.
“We’re not total lockdown or compulsory quarantine supporters. We have been begged to apply it, we have refused and we continue to do so because it is a question of principle rather than practice”, said the President in a press conference after the Council of Ministers held this afternoon in Montevideo.
Lacalle Pou appeared together with the Secretary of the Presidency, Álvaro Delgado, the Minister of Public Health, Daniel Salinas, and the head of Public Education, Robert Silva, to announce the measures taken by the cabinet to contain the resurgence of the first wave of COVID-19 that Uruguay is going through.
The President defended the decision to maintain the “freedom” of the population against any type of confinement, taken a year ago, shortly after the declaration of the sanitary emergency in the country.
“The situation is different, the number of cases is much higher, we have a strain (P1) that is very powerful in penetration and contagion, a complex situation in the health system putting pressure on the CTI (intensive care units), but at the same time Uruguay has advanced in vaccination”, argued Lacalle Pou.
Closure of public offices -except for essential services- and border free-shops until April 12, (same date for the closure of gyms, clubs, amateur sports and suspension of public shows), cancellation of attendance at all levels of education until April 5 and progressive return thereafter, were some of the measures announced.
In addition, Lacalle Pou announced the closure of thermal resorts in the departments of Salto and Paysandú (north-west of the country), the restriction of opening hours in bars and restaurants at midnight (03.00 GMT) and economic contributions such as a sickness allowance for those over 65 years of age in the private sector or a tax on public salaries for two months for those disadvantaged by the restrictions on mobility.
Lacalle Pou also explained the reinforcement of health measures, such as the addition of 129 intensive care beds to the more than 200 already existing in the public sector, the purchase of 150 respirators and monitors.
After Monday’s record number (2,700 cases in one day), Uruguay registered 1,801 infections on Tuesday, bringing the total number of positive cases to 86,007 (14,826 people currently suffering from the disease, of which 202 are in intensive care) and 827 deaths since March 13, 2020, when the health emergency was declared.