Despite being one of the first Latin American countries to impose a lockdown (even before European countries such as the United Kingdom), Peru is set to become the first country in the world to top the mark of 1,000 deaths per million people.
The nation of 33 million inhabitants is projected to reach 33,000 total confirmed coronavirus deaths within two days, considering the 7-day rolling average for new daily casualties.
As a comparison, Brazil — the country with the highest absolute numbers of cases (4.9 million) and deaths (147,817) in the region — currently has a rate of 700 deaths per million.
What went wrong?
There are many factors that go some way toward explaining Peru’s coronavirus collapse.
The country’s health system went into the pandemic with gross insufficiencies, which reflect Peru’s deep economic inequalities. When the Covid-19 crisis hit, Peru had only 100 intensive care beds and around 3,000 regular hospital beds. As of June, the government had to create 15,000 extra beds and multiply ICUs by 16.
The country’s lack of respect for isolation rules also plays a huge role in why Peru was unable to contain the virus.
Part of that is due to the structure of the country’s labor market. More than 70 percent of Peruvians have informal jobs, meaning isolation would have left them unemployed and without income. Also, less than 40 percent of the population has a bank account, forcing many people to leave their homes to withdraw the government-issued emergency aid of PEN 760 (USD 211).
However, many Peruvians refused to change their social habits. Since February, police forces in Peru have interrupted — sometimes employing disproportionate force — at least 320 clandestine parties in the capital city of Lima.Support this coverage →