Argentina surpasses 2m coronavirus cases

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Argentina has topped two million COVID-19 infections as the country scrambles to ramp up a vaccination program in a race against time to tame the virus before the fast-approaching southern hemisphere autumn.

The health ministry reported 7739 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the total number of infections to 2,001,034, and 49,674 deaths.

Argentina implemented a strict lockdown in March that lasted for months, with dwindling effect and increasing frustration. Restrictions have since been eased, but a Reuters tally of data shows daily infections more than doubled following the year-end holidays and during the summer.

Countries in the Americas recorded nearly half of all new COVID-19 cases worldwide in the past week, and deaths continue to rise in the region, the World Health Organisation says.

Argentina has thus far received 820,000 doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, which requires two shots. The deliveries, however, have fallen far short of the government's promised of five million doses by the end of January.

President Alberto Fernandez talked this month with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, asking him to help guarantee a fresh supply of the vaccine.