Hunger, unemployment and death in Peru: the humanitarian crisis that has been uncovered by COVID-19

The Andean nation registers a marked upward curve regarding the exponential number of infections and the increase in the number of deaths

Por Alexis Rodriguez


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The COVID-19 pandemic has hit hard numerous countries, especially those whose governments were unable to implement preventive and health control measures in time. In South America, the tendency is that the coronavirus has affected the States with right-wing leaders more severely, including: Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Chile and Colombia.

With a population close to 32 million inhabitants, Peru is the second country in South America with the highest number of confirmed patients with COVID-19, after Brazil, and the fourth in the American continent, with more than 31 thousand confirmed cases and 850 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University in its interactive map on the behavior of the coronavirus, until this April 28.

The situation in Peru is striking because it is surpassed on the list by giants in population such as the United States (almost 330 million), the current global epicenter of COVID-19 with more than a million positive cases and 58 thousand deaths; and Brazil, with 209 million people, accounts for more than 72,000 confirmed patients and 5,000 deaths.

In global figures, the pandemic has already exceeded the figure of three million confirmed infections worldwide and more than 216,000 deaths and 925,000 recovered patients.


Another reason that makes Peru more vulnerable is the informal economy, one of the main forms of income for most Peruvians, especially those who leave their provinces and go to the capital, Lima, so as to look for a way to improve their quality of life and also to give financial contributions for their families back home.

The other American giant that is above Peru is Canada, which with a population of approximately 37.59 million people has more than 50 thousand confirmed cases and almost three thousand fatalities.

Peru has a population similar to that of Venezuela, which presents figures totally opposite to that of the country that has been so profoundly attacked by the Lima Group lobby, a seditious platform created with the auspices of the United States to pressure and try to overthrow Nicolás Maduro. To date, Venezuela has recorded 329 positive cases, only 10 deceased and 142 recovered.

The pandemic has served to show the ‘seams’ of all these countries, especially those that have had governments dedicated in recent years to disproportionately attack Venezuela.


Peru’s humanitarian crisis

The pandemic has unleashed a massive exodus of Peruvians to the different provinces of the country, since Lima is totally saturated, paralyzed and isolated due to the large number of infections by COVID-19.

The Peruvian media report that, in recent days, thousands of people seek to reach their places of origin such as Piura, Apurímac, Cusco, San Martín, among others.

Hunger, unemployment, desolation and little access to health care is the harsh reality faced by both Peruvians and foreigners who, day after day, must overcome various obstacles to survive.

They need to eat and in Lima they no longer find any job opportunity and their savings have ran out. The media report that in the provinces they have their families and their homes, waiting for them to try to start again, a situation that was accelerated by the pandemic, but that was already cooking amid the entrenched corruption in that country.


These thousands of vulnerable citizens do not even have access to subsidies provided by the State to lessen the negative impact of the pandemic on the economy of the most vulnerable families. The Martín Vizcarra government approved a “solidarity bond” of 760 soles that it is scheduled to be handed out, but only to households with a registered address, although a large majority of peruvians do not have a ‘registered address’.

This vulnerable population now has to wait on the sides of the tracks, in the vicinity of the airport or in one of the squares where they have formed temporary shelters. Estimates calculate that more than 170,000 Peruvians are literally sleeping on the street waiting for a solution. This does not include the migrant population that is also destitute.

The most critical thing is that the provinces seem not to be prepared to receive the large number of returnees, many of them infected with COVID-19 and without receiving any sort of medical attention, and that once diagnosed, must go into isolation for at least two weeks.

The condition of the hospitals is also precarious, so the situation is considerably complicated and exposes them to dangers. Therefore, it is most likely that they will become saturated by incorporating this large number of people.


«We are reaching the limit of response capacity»

President Martín Vizcarra acknowledged that the health system is at the limit of care for people infected with COVID-19.

«We are reaching the limit of response capacity, but we still have an effort and we continue to increase the offer», he said in recent statements about the current situation in the country.

According to Vizcarra, «it is not that the system has collapsed and we are arms crossed, we continue working to be able to attend to all patients who require hospitalization and medical attention».

On the same subject, the Minister of Health, Víctor Zamora, recalled that at the beginning of the emergency unleashed by the coronavirus, there were only 100 beds in Intensive Care Units nationwide.


«If the social control measures had not been taken, we would have been overwhelmed. Today we have, happily, thanks to these measures and the progressive increase in beds, 534 patients receiving care in Intensive Care Units with fully equipped beds and adequate personnel», he said.

He added, that to date, there are 719 beds available nationwide and the idea is to continue increasing the number of stretchers for suspected and confirmed patients.

“For example, in Loreto, one of the hardest hit regions, we have sent 18 doctors and three nurses. Today 16 additional professionals are leaving (for that region). This is part of a ‘job bank’ through which we have recruited more than 21 thousand health professionals that we are going to relocate in various regions to attend the pandemic”, he reported.


The dangerous exponential contagion curve

Peru registers a marked upward curve with regard to the exponential behavior of infections and the increase in the number of deaths.

According to President Vizcarra, until last weekend, 232 thousand 747 samples or diagnostic tests have been carried out in Peru, of which 205 thousand 230 were negative and 27 thousand 517 positive.

He noted that, in total, they have 3,632 hospitalized patients and of that number 554 are in Intensive Care Units with mechanical ventilation, that are, in a serious condition.

Vizcarra indicated that the average fatality indicator of the COVID-19 in Peru is around 3% and stated that, to try to face the health crisis, in the next few days more than a million discard tests will arrive in the country: «800 thousand fast (tests) and 300 thousand molecular ”, he pointed out.


According to the Situational Room COVID-19 Peru, there are 719 ICU beds to serve patients infected with the virus, 554 are already occupied, while 165 are available.

The beds  that are available are distributed as follows: EsSalud (37), private clinics (29), Ministry of Health (8) and regional governments (82), while the health centers of the Armed Forces and the National Police still have 9 beds.

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