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Argentina receives AstraZeneca jabs amid anti-lockdown protests

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ARGENTINA has received a shipment of 864,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX global vaccination programme, the government said on Sunday, a day after demonstrations broke out against lockdown measures imposed in the Buenos Aires area.

  The doses from the Netherlands come after Argentina received 218,000 jabs last month through COVAX, which aims to ensure lower-income nations have equitable access to much-needed vaccines.

But many countries in Latin America are still waiting for inoculation jabs as cases rise.

The World Health Organization says at least 70 percent of the population in any country must be jabbed before herd immunity can be reached.

The South American country has administered 6.2 million jabs since its vaccine roll-out began in December of last year, while around 800,000 people are considered fully immunised after receiving two doses.

Argentines took to the streets on Saturday, however, to protest against new coronavirus-related restrictions in and around the capital, Buenos Aires, that came into effect on Friday.

The new measures, which include an 8pm curfew, school closures and a ban on activities in indoor public spaces, are expected to last through the end of the month.

Waving Argentinian flags and shouting slogans against President Alberto Fernandez, many demonstrators raised opposition to a decision to suspend in-person schooling for 15 days, which comes into effect on Monday.

The restrictions affect the capital and its peripheries, an area home to 15 million people.

Horacio Rodriguez Larreta, head of the city government, said last week that Buenos Aires “totally disagree[s] with the decision of the national government to close schools”.

“Yesterday, the national government decided to break the mechanism of dialogue and consensus that we had for more than a year,” Larreta said during a news conference. “I want to be very clear: we were not consulted about any of the measures taken.”

Fernandez, the president, said Argentina needed to “gain time” to tackle the surging pandemic.

“The virus is attacking us and is far from giving in,” he said when he announced the new curbs.

Last week, the Pan American Health Organization said cases of COVID-19 were rising in Argentina, among other countries in Latin America.

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