Sunday, June 21, 2020
What is up with the planned July 1 opening of Machu Picchu? Some news agencies are reporting that the opening will certainly be delayed, though they do not say who exactly is behind the delay.
As you read below, there are certainly a lot of issues expressed by the local munipality, but so far there has been no comment from the regional government or the government entities who control Machu Picchu in the past day or two.
Frankly, I expect this is all something that will get worked out in the coming week, but Peru has a long history of the populace asserting its will and a forced opening delay would not be a surprise.
It also appears that the railroad companies have not received permission to resume trips to Machu Picchu, but there is still time for this. PeruRail has nothing on their website, but they are selling tickets to Machu Picchu Pueblo from Ollantaytambo– something that was not available just a couple of days ago.
Since this is the Winter Solstice and perhaps the most important day of the year to the Inca civilization, I thought I’d write a quick piece about last year’s experience at Machu Picchu to witness one of the most incredible observations in the world on this day. You can read about it here: Winter Solstice at Machu Picchu (2019)
Protests May Stop Machu Picchu Opening
Residents of Machu Picchu Pueblo (also known as “Aguas Calientes”) are planning a protest tomorrow and are threatening to block the opening of Machu Picchu because, as they say, they are not ready and have not received appropriate government support.
Óscar Valencia, president of the Front for the Defense of the Interests of Machu Picchu, organization that is preparing a demonstration for tomorrow June 22, to demand health protocols for the pueblo and other points that they consider have not been taken into account before the return of visitors.
The Cusco leader once again reveals a rather acute problem, which has occurred with special emphasis on Machu Picchu since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Ninety-nine percent of the people have lost their jobs since the State of Emergency was declared since almost all the inhabitants are dedicated to tourism — either running lodgings, restaurants, bars or working in them.
“At least in Cusco (city) people can dedicate themselves to do other things, not here, here we are trapped and we cannot leave so as not to return with the coronavirus, we have closed the borders for our health, but at the same time we have condemned ourselves,” he said.
In addition to the alleged lack of health guarantees to be able to reopen Machu Picchu, the locals are also demanding a budget to restart construction in the district, in order to obtain jobs and boost the ailing local economy.
According to them, the Alccamayo River Riparian Defense project already has a file and budget, and the only thing left to do is for Gore Cusco to pay for the work to begin. They are also asking for budget allocations for the Mirador de Putucusi project and others that have been suspended.
“For this Monday we are preparing a ‘cacerolazo’, because in Machu Picchu we do not have what to eat and so they plan to revive the visit of tourists, we want them to turn their eyes to us and give us work, and to ensure that the COVID-19 will not enter the village, “he said.
Regarding the protest that day, he mentioned that it will begin with a tour of the main streets of Machu Picchu, and then move on to a symbolic act of flagging the entire district with white flags, finally ending with a rally at the Plaza Manco Capac.
If their claims are not heard before July 1st, they said they already have pickets posted on the railroad track, at Kilometer 88, where they will not allow trains to pass, as well as stationing themselves at the entrance to the historic sanctuary, so as not to allow anyone access.
The vice-president of the Association of Tourism Agencies of Cusco, Edy Cuellar, the petition of the residents of Machu Picchu is more than fair, however it reveals that the pilot plan for the return of tourists to the ancient Inca city is still in project and that although the doors will open from July 1, he does not believe that any tourists will arrive for a long time.
Currently, the train and bus operators and other transporters that take visitors to Machu Picchu still do not have permits from the Ministry of Transport to return to the way they used to operate. The local and international airports have not been opened either, which shows that the flow of tourists to the area will be scarce or practically null in the first stage.
“The reopening of Machu Picchu is a commercial and marketing strategy more than anything else. It is something symbolic, which sends a message to the world, in order to get tourists to trust this destination again and visit it, but this will happen in the medium and long term, not at this moment,” he said.
Machu Picchu Pueblo Mayor Supports the Community
The Mayor of Machu Picchu Pueblo, Darwin Baca, expressed his support for the concerns of the people his community as expressed above as well as his concerns that they are not prepared for the return of visitors in a detailed interview with Cusco Post.
He claims that multiple requests for help from the regional government have gone unanswered. As examples, he says that a promised ambulance has not been delivered and promised improvements to local health facilities have not occurred.
Since 90% of the residents are involved in the tourism trade, there is currently virtually no income in the community resulting in no funds to insure the infrastructure necessary to receive tourists.
He is also worried that when projects do resume, they will bring in outsiders to work rather than employing locally unemployed people.
He said they have asked PeruRail to implement reduced fares allowing Peruvians who have undergone three months of economic hardship to cheaper access to Machu Picchu.
More Confirmation of Peru’s Case Decline
Marco Loret de Mola, general manager of the laboratory Matlab Peru, said that for the first time there is a downward trend in new cases. However, he warned that an outbreak could also occur.
In an interview with RPP’s Sunday News program Ampliacion de Noticias, the mathematician warned that it is necessary to wait at least two more weeks to confirm a decrease in infections or a leveling off of infections.
“The trend of the death curve, regardless of when it was, has the same behavior as the trend of new infections. Regardless of how many people have died, if the proportions are right, it’s good news. If it’s the other way around, there’s an inconsistency and a serious problem,” he explained.
The number of deaths from COVID-19 in Peru rose to 7,861, with more than 251,000 infected. Marco Loret de Mola pointed out that in week 14 it was observed that the number of infections is less than the number discharged from the country’s hospitals.
On the other hand, the mathematician said that Lima has a reproduction factor slightly less than 1 (R < 1), which means that the number of infections continues but has decreased. However, there are regions of Peru where there is a high R, such as Arequipa.
“We have to be very careful. We have not won [and] reaching the plateau is not winning the war. It is being in a better situation. That’s why we all have to continue to take care of ourselves,” he said.
Daily COVID Update from Minsa
The Ministry of Health (Minsa) announced 3,598 new cases which brings the nationwide total to 254,936. The number of deaths rose by 196 to reach a total of 8,045 across Peru.
There are 10,566 patients hospitalized with Covid-19, of which 1,137 are in ICU with mechanical ventilation. So far 141,967 people have completed their period of home isolation or have been discharged from a health facility.
Lima continues to be the region with the highest number of Covid-19 infections to date with 144,623 followed by the regions of Callao (16 986), Piura (15 389), Lambayeque (12 315), Loreto (8335), La Libertad (8381), Ancash (7133), Ucayali (6989), Ica (6176), Arequipa (5744), San Martín (3553), Junín (3117), Tumbes (2288), Huanuco (1818), Amazonas (1595), Cusco (1561), Cajamarca (1568), Ayacucho (1522), Madre de Dios (1346), Pasco (866), Moquegua (851), Huancavelica (810), Puno (766), Tacna (747) and Apurimac (457).
Thousands in Loreto Receive Veterinary Heartworm Injections
RPP Noticias is reporting this morning that a mayor and an evangelical group in Loreto have promoted the application of veterinary ivermectin to at least 5 000 people as a “palliative” for COVID-19.
“Since May, the mayor of Loreto province and an evangelical alliance have been calling, using radio stations, for people to be given veterinary ivermectin as if it were a vaccine against the disease. In Nauta, at least 5 000 people have received it,” says the director of Radio Ucamara, Leonardo Tello, the city’s main radio station.
After receiving the injection, Tello says many people felt their hearts racing. “The side effect has been horrendous,” he explains, adding that some evangelical pastors in Loreto have linked the new coronavirus with the devil and the end of the world, so they offer these injections as “a salvation.
This has been the case in Cuninico, a community where a large part of the population was showing symptoms of the virus. The technician from the health module installed on the site by the Minsa told the volunteers from the Evangelical Missions of the Amazon that this supposed “vaccine” was not necessary. However, they insisted on administering the veterinary invermectin to a large group of people.
“The volunteers’ explanation was clear and direct that it is approved by law, and that it is an animal treatment that gives positive results as a vaccine,” said the apu (indigenous chief) of Cuninico, Wadson Trujillo Acosta. “They said they are doing it nationally and also in Nauta, and they warned of the side effects such as diarrhea. Some people did have that reaction,” he added.
In this community, 60 percent of people over the age of 18 received the drug, about 160, Trujillo said. “Almost everyone here has had symptoms of COVID-19 and with home remedies they are counteracting them. Some have been in isolation because we continue to have a problem with the supply of medicine. We received 27 rapid diagnostic tests for the community, seven of which were positive, and we have kept another seven tests in case the cases get worse. The staff has the minimum of safety equipment, but we already have masks for the population,” says Apu Trujillo.
The General Directorate of Medicines of the Ministry of Health (DIGEMID) warned last week about the misuse of veterinary ivermectin for COVID-19 patients, explaining that animal products “do not meet the same requirements as drugs for humans, and presentations of ivermectin formulated for animals should not be used as a substitute for ivermectin intended for use in humans to treat COVID-19”.
Despite all the warnings, the Mayor of Loreto, Giampaolo Rojas, continues with the ivermectin injections. At the Intuto community health centre, staff continue to administer the veterinary drug. Evangelical volunteers also apply the medicine in the communities of Santa Rita de Castilla and Saramurillo, among others.
The Ministry of Health and the Regional Health Directorate of Loreto have not responded to the newspaper El País on this matter. Julio Chirinos, professor and associate physician at the University of Pennsylvania, stated that he completely disagrees with the administration of this veterinary drug, as there is no evidence that it is beneficial in COVID-19 patients. In a letter to the Ministry of Health, Chirinos has called for the withdrawal of hydroxychloroquine and (human) ivermectin from coronavirus treatment, “because of their lack of efficacy and risk of toxicity.”
COVID Reports from Across Peru
Most Regional Health Directorates post graphics each day on the current situation in their region each day. I’m going to try to keep up with these as best as I can for those regions that are particularly problematic so people can keep up with what is specifically happening in other parts of the country where there are particularly serious problems.
Most regions post daily reports late on the night before (but not all) so this is the latest information available. (Be sure to click on individual graphics to see a larger size.You might have to click on the top half of the graphic to click. Sorry, it’s a bug I haven’t been able to solve.)
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