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Last night the Ministry of Health reported COVID-19 related data for February 14 which makes it possible to look at trends for the first half of the month.
I’m very happy to say that, so far, it appears to be going exactly as I said it would many weeks ago. First, the serious problems created during the Christmas and New Years holidays became clear by the second week of January just as predicted.
And now, halfway through February, the trend of improvement is continuing strong and certain just as I said it would. [I’m not bragging. I simply take the time to learn from the smartest people in the world who spend their lives studying epidemiology rather than getting my information from uneducated social media pundits.]
The trend of decreasing contagion across the country has been very, very clear for well over a week now with a surprisingly strong decrease in positivity rates from testing despite unprecedented testing numbers.
The 7-day rolling average reached a high of 18.4% back on February 6 and has steadily dropped to 15.1% as of Sunday.
Hospitalizations and Patients in ICU Care
Hospitalizations have slowed considerably, but are still increasing. This is to be expected as it will take more time to level off and start to go down. Likely by the end of February we will start to see at the very least a peak and, hopefully, the beginning of a drop in COVID hospitalizations.
The number of patients hospitalized in ICU units hasn’t changed much in several weeks as ICU units have been operating at nearly full capacity for a long time. The slow increase is due more to a lack of available space rather than slowing demand.
February has seen 2699 deaths in Peru in the first two weeks. So far, this month has seen the highest daily average (192.8) of any month since the pandemic began. If that doesn’t underline the extreme seriousness of the second wave we are now experiencing, then nothing will.
This is nearly double the daily average in January and almost four times the number as recently as December.
Deaths are known as a “trailing indicator” as they often come after hospitalizations. I expect this number is not going to peak (and likely will increase) for at least another two weeks and maybe longer.
What Lies Ahead
It’s still going to awhile before the effects of vaccinations start to take effect so in the meantime, nothing is more important than mask wearing and social distancing.
For weeks now I’ve said the wild card in all of this are the variants that exist in Peru right now from the UK and Brazil.
It appears that most, if not all, vaccines, are effective against the UK variant. The Brazilian P1 variant concerns me the most as so little is known about the effects of vaccines thanks to the Brazilian government’s deliberate “head in the sand” denial approach to dealing with COVID-19 in their country.
As Peru shares a long and porous border with Brazil, the extensive spread of the P1 variant should be quite concerning to all. Iquitos and the Loreto region — once one of the world’s worst COVID hotspots — are now seeing the results of dropping their guard and continuing to ignore basic protocols. Let’s hope the same thing doesn’t happen to Ucayali (Pucallpa) and Madre de Dios (Puerto Maldonado).
[Iquitos just saw huge Carnival celebrations across the city on Sunday as reported by RPP Noticias. Crowds reaching 1000 people in different neighborhoods saw people celebrating while ignoring masks-earing and social distancing rules.
According to the Regional Health Directorate, there are 331 hospitalized patients, 36 on mechanical ventilation and 22 waiting for an ICU bed. During the last two months, 223 people died due to COVID-19.]
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