Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez talks during a press conference announcing measures during the outbreak of the new…
Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez announced a “preventative and compulsory” lockdown until March 31 to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, at the Presidential residence in Olivos, Buenos Aires, March 19, 2020.

The president of Argentina says the South American nation is going into a mandatory quarantine for 11 days, in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Speaking to the nation in a televised address Thursday, President Alberto Fernández said everyone must stay home, starting at midnight Friday, local time, until midnight March 31. Fernández said people making trips to buy groceries, and other necessities are exempt.

The president said those who are unable to explain why they are on the street will face reprimands provided by the penal code.

“It is time for us to understand that we are caring for the health of Argentines. We have now dictated this measure trying to make the effects on the economy as least harmful as possible,” Fernández said, explaining the new directive.

Ahead of Friday's lockdown, long lines of people converged on supermarkets and pharmacies to stock up on supplies.

So far, Argentina has at least 128 confirmed infections, and three people have died with the virus. Argentina had previously closed its borders to non-residents, suspended flights and shut down schools, all in an effort to stop the spread of virus.

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