While I had been reporting on data trends about twice a month, the anticipated effects of Christmas and New Year’s holidays require a more regular approach to reporting.
After the first week of data has now been released by the Ministry of Health (Minsa), the trends are revealing exactly what was predicted by everyone.
It takes about 2 weeks afer the start of the holidays to begin to see the effects. That time is here as Christmas was two weeks earlier and the data relating to New Year’s is not even clear yet.
Things are not going in a good direction for the country.
The most telling statistic is the positivity rate of testing. A 7-day rolling average provides a smoothing of the data and allows trends to be easily seen across time.
This data reveals a significant rise in testing positivity. A few days there was an remarkably (and unexplained) dip in the rate or the rend would be even more obvious. That will become even more clear in a few days.
So far, January is the first month in a long, long time that the number of known cases is actually increasing.
The number of COVID hospitalizations and people in ICU care for COVID have been steadily increasing since the start of December and the numbers are starting to rise even more as we’ve reached two weeks after the start of the holidays.
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The most frightening indicator of a problem is deaths. This is known as a trailing indicator — meaning the effects are generally seen even later than others.
Peru is averaging just over 60 deaths a day this month — a number that is rising. On January 7 (the most recent day reported), the number of COVID related deaths was 96 — the highest one-day total in 3 1/2 months!
I live in Cusco where there is still a significant amount of adherence to mask wearing and social distancing procedures, but after a lengthy walk through several lower income neighborhoods yesterday I noticed that the amount of compliance was much lower.
In the tourist areas and the central corridor mask wearing is still close to 100%, but in the areas I visited yesterday that number dropped to an estimated 80-85%. That’s still far higher than some countries like the United States, but nowhere near where it needs to be to effectively combat COVID-19 — especially with the likely appearance of the more contagios mutations which are probably already here.
I’ve heard anecdotal stories of other regions having minimal compliance. Photos shared by media and friends from all over Peru indicates some regions are basically ignoring mask wearing.