Argentina includes coronavirus cases from the Falklands with its own figures because islands are part of its 'national territory'

Argentina includes coronavirus cases from the Falklands with its own figures because islands are part of its 'national territory'

Argentina is including cases of coronavirus in the Falkland Islands' as its own.

The South American nation's claim to sovereignty over the British Overseas Territory has extended to listing the confirmed island figures as part of the overall statistics from its southernmost region of Tierra del Fuego.

Argentinian health chiefs have already included the five cases from RAF base Mount Pleasant in the national caseload.

The Falkland Islands Government confirmed on Thursday there were five confirmed Covid-19 cases on the complex. It is due to update the figures on Monday.

Argentinian health chiefs say they are having to rely on the figures released by island officials as their reference because the 'illegal occupation' of the Falklands makes it impossible for them to do their own checks on the 'impact of Covid-19 in that part of Argentina.'

Argentina's Falklands secretary Daniel Filmus, referring to the disputed territory by their Spanish name Las Malvinas, said: 'In accordance with our constitution and current legislation, Argentina will include those infected who are in the Malvinas in its statistics because they are in national territory.

'The government will register positive cases in the archipelago as part of the population of the province of Tierra del Fuego.

Last month Argentina offered to help Falkland Islands' residents if they needed anything during the coronavirus crisis.

Mr Filmus revealed he had spoken to Argentina's British ambassador Mark Kent to make the offer.

The Argentinian government said it stood ready to provide fresh food, medicine and Covid-19 tests if required as well humanitarian flights or medical care for Islanders.

A statement issued by Argentina's Foreign Ministry on March 23, referring to the Falkland Islands as Las Malvinas, said: 'In the name of the Argentinian government, the Secretary of the Malvinas, Antarctic and South Atlantic Daniel Filmus contacted the British ambassador in Buenos Aires Mark Kent today to offer its willingness to assist the island residents as a result of the situation generated by the coronavirus pandemic.

'He mentioned the possibility of co-operating with the residents by sending fresh food, medicines and tests to detect the virus which causes Covid-19, as well as making available facilities to undertake humanitarian flights if necessary and provide care in medical centres in mainland Argentina.'

Mr Filmus added: 'I have transmitted the message of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Felipe Sola to Mr Kent which is that at such difficult times, solidarity must be the way to overcome the situation caused by coronavirus.'

War veteran Jed Stone called it a 'great gesture' but sea cadet instructor John Bennett reacted by warning: 'It's a trap' in a Twitter debate sparked by the offer.

Argentinian German Coduras, brushing off comments from compatriots insisting it was the UK's job to help, added: 'We should unite against the only enemy which is Covid-19.'

Tests swabs taken in the Falkland Islands have to be sent to the UK.

The latest figures from the Falkland Islands government confirmed five people currently serving at Mount Pleasant have Covid-19, with one still in hospital. Another has just been discharged, and three are in isolation at the RAF base.

It added: 'Our key objective is to protect lives. In the face of this global pandemic, the primary focus is to manage the immediate health risks.

'However, we must do this in a way which is proportionate to the circumstances in which we find ourselves, and we must also have regard to the need to keep the economy of the Islands going, to ensure that work can continue, where it is safe to do so.'

Falkland Islands resident Lisa Watson, editor of its weekly paper Penguin News, raged on Twitter: 'The Argentine government quite literally has no shame.

'Using an horrific global tragedy to make a political point. I can’t believe the people approve of their government’s behaviour in this case.'

Brit David Eccles joked ironically: 'So they’re paying for their healthcare are they? Thought not.'

Another social media user, referring to the Alberto Fernandez-led Argentinian government whose Vice President is the nation’s controversial former leader Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, added: 'It’s just another example of how pathetic, delusional and idiotic the kirchnerite narrative and its followers are.'

Argentina currently has 2,142 confirmed coronavirus cases with 89 confirmed deaths.

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