The doctors and health officials of Argentina are making predictions that the coronavirus or COVID-19 cases are going to peak in the coming weeks as the southern hemisphere winter comes, straining hospital intensive care units after the confirmed cases accelerated over 50,000.

The South American country that outperformed many of the neighbors early on controlling the deadly novel virus with a tough lockdown, has witnessed the cases rise fivefold from mid-May with more than 2,600 new cases on Thursday alone. The death toll is standing at around 1,150.

The government has eased some restrictions but maintained a lockdown in Buenos Aires city and province. A new phase of the quarantine is expected to be announced on Friday, with authorities looking to tighten controls on movement.

COVID-19 in Argentina

Coronavirus
Workers make face masks in the workshop of a textile company in Jimo District of Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, Feb. 12, 2020. Qingdao Municipal Bureau of Industry and Information Technology has mobilized two large textile companies to produce face masks to help the fight against the novel coronavirus epidemic. With the help and coordination of local authorities, the companies have retrofitted their production equipment and modified the assembly lines to produce face masks. It's expected that an average of 60,000 face masks could be produced per day in the first phase of production. (Photo by Liang Xiaopeng/Xinhua/IANS) Xinhua/IANS

"We estimate that the number of infected people will keep rising for the next 20 days or so," said Juan Ciruzzi, executive director at the Eurnekian hospital in Buenos Aires, adding that this was in part due to loosened quarantine rules. "People are moving about more and we do not have the tools to fight it."

Infections have risen particularly in poorer neighborhoods in Buenos Aires and on the fringes of the capital, sparking a response from authorities to ramp up testing to help stem the spread. Argentina's government has been looking to revitalize the country's hard-hit economy, allowing more businesses to open, though parks, schools and offices in the capital remain shut and non-essential workers are mostly confined at home.

Alejandro Andres Revollini, associate director at the Eurnekian hospital, said case numbers would only really start to fall away from September, with the "top peak" around mid-July. "People understand that we are going to have to live with the virus and many of us are going to catch it," he said.

(With agency inputs)