Health Minister says Peru is not ready for the omicron onslaught

Peru’s Health Minister, Hernando Cevallos, said that despite improvements in the health system, the country is not prepared to face the third wave of the pandemic that is hitting the world, driven by the omicron variant.

“I would not say that we are prepared for a third wave. Our health system is still very precarious. The improvements that may have been made in four or five months, during this administration, do not solve the forgetfulness of decades,” Cevallos said in an interview for the newspaper El Comercio.

“We are far below the bed indicators that we should have, below the number of professionals we need. It is very clear that our health system is fragile, even though it has improved,” Cevallos said.

The minister indicated that, when the pandemic began in March 2020, Peru did not have even 200 beds in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and now has about 2,000.

“We are better prepared, but it does not mean that our health system can ensure coverage against a third wave whose magnitude we cannot yet calculate,” he added.

The ministry confirmed on Tuesday that the country is going through a new wave of pandemic after the New Year and Christmas holidays.

On Saturday, Peru registered the record of 16,135 new cases of covid in a single day and the highest in the entire pandemic.

The infections are due to the expansion of the highly contagious omicron variant in Lima, Callao and in different regions of the country, including Arequipa, Junín, Ica, Pasco, Apurímac, Huancavelica and Ayacucho.

82% of new cases are due to the omicron variant in Metropolitan Lima, according to the ministry.

– Difficult situation –

The Vice Minister of Health, Augusto Tarazona, told RPP radio that the ministry has estimated that in three weeks it will reach 150,000 cases per week, “which puts the country in a rather difficult situation.”

“We have an estimate on which we work, in three more weeks, we could reach over 150,000 cases per week, which puts us in a rather difficult situation, because in the second wave, the highest peak was 60,000 cases per week. week “, highlighted Tarazona.

“It is worrying because the virus spreads very quickly, which is characteristic of this variant, which means that we must redouble our efforts. We see the epidemiological curve, which is not really a curve, but rather a vertical line upwards, because every day it doubles the number of cases, “said the vice minister.

Peru seeks to contain the pandemic with reduced capacity in shopping centers and vaccination to avoid massive infections.

The government reduced the capacity to 40% in shopping centers, restaurants and closed spaces in 24 provinces of the country, including Lima, classified as a high level of the pandemic.

It also extended the curfew between 11:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. local time, which has been in force since Friday.

By December, they had reached 1,500 daily diagnoses. People infected with the omicron variant number 332 in Peru.

Between January 1 to 7, more than 45,700 new infections were registered.

The government extended until January 31 the state of emergency in force for 21 months due to the pandemic.

This country has the highest death rate from covid-19 in the world, with 6,122 deaths per million inhabitants, according to an AFP balance based on official figures.

Peru accumulates more than two million cases of covid-19 and more than 203,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic in early 2020.

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