All along I’ve said that we would be seeing the results of the holidays on COVID-19 data by the second week of January. Sadly, those results are showing up now and COVID-19 appears to making a massive comeback in Peru as previous incremental increases have rapidly become exponential increases based on data from the Ministry of Health (Minsa).
The leading indicator is the positivity rate which has shot up drastically just in in the past few days, but has shown a steady increase of about 50% since Christmas.
Here’s how the positivity rate of testing has gone up and down since the near start of the pandemic:
This chart shows how it has risen since Christmas:
Hospitalizations have also risen an astounding rate since Christmas:
The number of people being treated in ICU care has also been going up, though recent reports indicate that this may be flattening simply because the number of available ICU beds is nearly full.
While the number of daily deaths has climbed only slightly, it is considered a “trailing indicator” and likely will begin to increase soon.
Anecdotal stories of large portions of the country ignoring mask earing and social distancing laws is especially frightening. I’ve seen lots of videos posted by friends in some places — particularly Iquitos — showing an almost complete disregard for masks.
One expat from the Iquitos area publicly asked “Does anyone else find themselves smoking more in public so you don’t have to wear these stupid masks.”
A couple of days ago I did a two hour walk around the southern part of town. I only saw two people not wearing masks out of probably thousands I passed on the street. One was a mentally disabled man who is well known around town.
The other was a worker in a coffee shop near the Plaza Real mall. He simply didn’t seem to care about it at all. This is the only time in months that I’ve found any employee anywhere not wearing a mask. He didn’t have it below his chin or apparently laying around where he set it down for a moment for some reason. He didn’t care.
I bought a couple of bread items then, after I walked out, thought about it and threw everything in the trash before heading straight for a store to buy alcohol to clean my hands. That was 5 soles down the drain.
Fortunately in Cusco, most people still wear masks. In the center and in the major areas of town mask wearing is still almost universal. It’s still rare to enter any business without having our hands sprayed with alcohol and most still check your temperature on the spot.
The Minister of Health, Pilar Mazzetti, said yesterday that “Our situation can change at any time. Indeed, we are already changing, at this time the health system is receiving more patients. We are moving from a resurgence to a time when the number of cases is already rising faster, we are in a second wave.”
“We are in a situation of uncertainty. It is hard, but we have to be clear,” she said referring to the possibility of returning to a mandatory quarantine.
© Copyright 2019-2021