The U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires on Thursday issued the following Swine Flu note for travelers and local residents:
The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Argentina of the health risks associated with the World Health Organization (WHO)-declared 2009-H1N1 influenza pandemic, which has resulted in illness in numerous countries. The current outbreak in Argentina has caused federal, provincial, and municipal authorities to announce several measures to prevent the illness from spreading. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that Americans at high risk for complications of influenza and considering travel to areas affected by 2009-H1N1 influenza, such as Argentina, discuss their travel plans with their doctor. Together, they should look carefully at the 2009-H1N1 flu situation at their destination including available health-care options in the area. They should discuss their specific health situations and possible increased risk of traveling to the area affected by 2009-H1N1 flu. This Travel Alert expires on September 14, 2009. (more…)
International tourism in May plunged 15% from the same month a year ago, making this the eight consecutive annual decline since October.
Last month’s numbers were also bad, but they were tempered by news that outbound tourism was up almost 17% as more Argentines travelled abroad. That wasn’t the case in May because the number of Argentines who left the country fell 5.2% on the year. (more…)
Argentina has just won the dubious distinction of surpassing Mexico, where the “novel A/H1N1″ flu virus seems to have first reared its ugly head, as the world’s second-ranked spot for flu deaths.
So far the virus is responsible for 137 confirmed deaths, according to the latest data from Argentina’s Health Ministry. That compares with just 134 in Mexico, according to the latest data from Mexico’s Health Secretariat.
Argentina’s mortality rate appears to be the highest in the world, by far. As of Tuesday Argentina had 3,056 confirmed swine flu cases, compared with 12,645 in Mexico. Chile, which has 9,549 confirmed cases, has just 25 confirmed deaths.
In Mexico, confirmed deaths account for 1% of confirmed cases. In Chile, that figure stands at just 0.0026%. In the U.S., the country with the highest number of deaths at 211, the figure is a mere 0.0056%, with 37,246 confirmed cases, according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Argentina’s mortality rate truly stands out at 4.48% of total confirmed flu cases.
Overall, the virus is still largely innocuous given that almost everyone who gets it, and is treated properly, recovers perfectly. Still, the 4.4% rate is alarmingly high even if Argentina is in the middle of its peak flu season, making it much harder to control the virus.
Argentine President Cristina Fernández on Wednesday said Argentina is likely ranked second “because it’s the one that really counts the numbers.” It wasn’t entirely clear exactly what she meant by this. “I don’t like those rankings,” Fernández said.
As Argentina’s winter season moves into full gear and the number of confirmed H1N1 flu deaths rises, suspicions are also rising about the veracity of the government’s swine flu data.
As of June 26, the latest available data, Argentina had 1,587 confirmed swine flu cases and 26 confirmed deaths, according to the Health Ministry.
That ranks Argentina third in the world in terms of confirmed deaths. It is topped only by the U.S., which has had 27,717 cases and 127 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and Mexico, which has had 8,279 cases and 116 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.
La Nación columnist Joquín Morales Solá summed up the suspicions over Argentina’s official swine flu data in a column Sunday: (more…)
The City of Buenos Aires on Friday will get a limited-use version of the electronic transit card system touted earlier this year by President Cristina Fernández.
The system, called SUBE (Sistema Único de Boleto Electrónico), will allow travelers to use the subway, and some trains and buses, by swiping a single, pre-paid electronic card.
One aim of the system is to free up coins for use by the general public, ending the country’s absurd coin shortage problem.
On Friday the government will distribute 50,000 cards around the city in a bid to get the system up and running, the Transportation Secretariat said in a statement. At first card holders will be able to use the card on a limited number of buses (including the 5, 8, 50 and 101 lines), as well as all subways and the Urquiza and Belgrano Norte train lines.
International tourism in April fell 6% from the same month a year ago, making this the seventh consecutive annual decline since October.
But while the numbers are down, the decline wasn’t as bad as it was last month, when tourism plummeted almost 20%. Meanwhile, the number of Argentines traveling abroad surged in April, rising almost 17% from a year ago, indicating that not everyone is suffering from the economic slowdown.
Argentine Health Minister Graciela Ocaña late Sunday confirmed the country’s first H1N1 – or swine flu – death. The victim was a three-month-old girl who had been born prematurely and had experienced previous lung problems.
The number of confirmed H1N1 cases in Argentina now totals 733, according to the latest Health Ministry data. Worldwide, confirmed swine flu cases totaled 37,486 as of Sunday night, with the confirmed death toll at 164.
That puts the percentage of confirmed deaths remarkably low at around 0.004% globally. The percentage is just 0.001% in Argentina.
The U.S. is easily the country most affected by the virus with almost half of the world’s confirmed cases and 45 deaths. Mexico comes in second place with 6,241 cases and 108 confirmed deaths.
Google Maps now provides its “Get Directions” feature for the City of Buenos Aires and, apparently, Bariloche and Mendoza.
The feature doesn’t appear to cover anything outside the cities and it’s not clear yet if it covers everything in each city. But in my limited tests the feature seems to work very well, at least for well known streets in well known neighborhoods in the City of Buenos Aires. Even more limited tests seemed to show it working in Bariloche and Mendoza.
For now, the feature provides mapping data and advice only in “Car” mode, meaning it doesn’t seem to prioritize distance when suggesting routes. In the above photo, for example, I mapped out a route going from the French cafe Oui Oui (Nicaragua 2161) in Palermo to the Palermo Starbucks (Malabia 1738).
Google’s first suggested route was for me to take Nicaragua and go out of my way over to Niceto Vega, then turn back on Armenia and move toward Malabia. Google says this route is 3.2 kilometers. It’s possible (but doubtful) that this route would be faster in a car than by taking a shorter, 2.6 kilometer route through Gorriti, but Google doesn’t suggest this shorter route first.
Regardless, Google does suggest two shorter, alternative routes, giving people a range of options on how to best get to the destination point. The program, in my testing of it for BA streets, works brilliantly. It may have flaws for lesser known areas but it’s still an excellent choice for both drivers and pedestrians who want to figure out how to get around this amazingly endless city.
The Ministry of Health late Monday confirmed 14 new cases of the H1N1 virus, bringing the number of confirmed swine flu cases since April 26th to 19.
The Ministry said it is studying another 26 cases.
Cabinet Chief Sergio Massa said the government has suspended classes for 14 days at two schools in the City of Buenos Aires and another two in Buenos Aires Province.
Worldwide the number of confirmed cases totals 12,816 in 48 countries, according to the latest Ministry data.
The number of confirmed deaths totals 92, though unofficial estimates put that number much higher.
You can see more information here.
Since 2000 a whopping 24,626 Americans have sought residency in Argentina, according to the latest data from the Dirección Nacional de Migraciones obtained by The Argentine Post.
Last year alone 4,173 U.S. citizens filed to become either temporary or permanent residents here. That’s a record for one year, and it’s up more than 10% from 2007.
But these figures represent only the number of Americans who have sought formal residence. The number who are living here informally on tourists visas is unknown but certain to be many times higher.
International tourism fell in March, declining 19.4% from the same month a year ago, making this the sixth consecutive annual decline since October.
The number of visitors fell to 180,649 in March, compared with 224,166 a year ago. The amount of money they spent while here also fell, plunging 25.8% to $235 million, the national statistics agency, INDEC, reported Friday.
In March the average tourist spent $82.4 a day, or almost 12% less than a year ago. Brazilians again spent the most ($120), followed by Chileans ($110), Americans and Canadians ($97.8) and. Europeans spent the least at $74.8 a day.
As many of you already know, the Argentine government in late March increased a range of immigration and travel fees paid by foreigners who visit the country as tourists or live in it as expats.
Some of you have noticed the higher, 300-peso fee now charged for 90-day tourist visa renewals. Renewing the 90-day tourist visa used to cost a mere 50 pesos. For Mercosur citizens the renewal now costs 100 pesos. (You can see some expat reaction to the new fees over at Discover Buenos Aires.)
The new fees, which were published in the Official Bulletin on March 26 and can be seen here in detail (in Spanish), also include a new 1,000-peso fee for getting authorization to change a tourist visa into a work visa.