Peru has now become one of the hardest-hit nations during the pandemic relative to the population as new COVID-19 death toll in Peru surfaces.
Peru has become one of the hardest-hit nations during the pandemic relative to its population as the country said that its COVID-19 death toll is almost three times as high as it had officially counted. The government said that 180,764 people died from COVID-19 until May 22, which is almost triple the official death toll of 68,000. The figures were released through a report on Monday that combined deaths from multiple databases and reclassified fatalities. According to a New York Times database, the new figure would mean that more people have died per capita in Peru than in Hungary or the Czech Republic which are the countries with the highest official death tolls per case.
The report has landed a precarious moment for Peru’s government just days before the second round of presidential elections set to be scheduled for Sunday.
The official death toll in Peru before the revised estimate was already the ninth-largest per capita in the world as the country has struggled to contain the coronavirus since the pandemic began. According to New York Times data, as early as last June, it was clear that far more deaths were occurring in Peru than expected in a normal year, and the gap – a figure known as excess deaths – was much larger than the official number of deaths attributed to COVID-19. Expert deduced from the signs that COVID-19 deaths were being undercounted.
The pandemic has underscored the deep inequality and corruption in Peru, said William Pan, who reaches global environmental health at Duke University. He said that COVID-19 patients were seeing similar problems in Iquitos (the largest Peruvian city in the Amazon) long before reports of oxygen shortages in India and Brazil made world headlines.
“Thousands of people were being turned away last April and May due to lack of oxygen, lack of space, medical staff being totally overwhelmed and more,” Pan said. Forced to reckon with a re-evaluation of the pandemic’s true impact, Peru could be the first of several countries to do so. In May, death from COVID-19 globally was probably much higher than had been recorded, said the World Health Organization.
The health minister, Oscar Ugarte said that Peru’s government will start publishing more accurate daily tallies of cases and deaths based on new guidelines laid out in the report. “This is a new tool to help us fight the pandemic,” Ugarte said, adding that the “new estimate requires a modification of all the current policies aimed at controlling the spread of the virus.”
Peru was rocked by the impeachment of President Martin Vizcarra in November and the pandemic has only intensified the political turmoil. The country has seen four presidents serve in five years, three of whom spent time in jail during bribery investigations.
The ouster of Vizcarra led to protest and came months before the first round of presidential elections in April. On Sunday, Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of jailed former president Alberto Fujimori, will face Pedro Castillo, a former union activist and teacher, who won the most votes in April.
According to official data, the virus is spreading faster in South America than any other continent with five nations among the top 10 globally for new cases reported per person. Argentina, which was supposed to host the Copa America soccer tournament, has seen the worst outbreak and organisers have announced that they are moving the tournament to Brazil.
“Latin America has been one of the hardest-hit regions in the pandemic,” said Dr Michael H. Merson, a professor of global health at Duke University. “I suspect that other countries in the region will be revising their estimates of deaths from COVID-19.”
Brazil has been ravaged by a variant known as P.1 however, the spread of the virus has slowed lately. In the largest public mobilisation since the beginning of the pandemic, against the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, thousands of Brazilians critical of the president took to the streets over the weekend. The coronavirus has killed more than 461,000 Brazilians and the protestors show of force in cities across the country has followed a series of damning revelations in congressional hearings examining the government’s catastrophic response to the pandemic.