Tuesday, July 21, 2020
This is the second day waiting on a package that UPS and Amazon in the US say is “out for delivery”. It is getting a little old, but it’s only been a week since it shipped so, considering the situation, delivery now wouldn’t be bad.
I did spend a good bit of time this morning chatting with Amazon’s overseas customer service representatives. As always, the original person was useless and only went through scripts without offering any possible solutions. And, as always, I requested to be speak with a supervisor.
Surprisingly, the person listened and didn’t try to give me canned answers that had nothing to do with my question about when it would be delivered since I do not care to sit at home each day waiting for a delivery that may or may not arrive despite being reported as “out for delivery”.
(You can wait for the daily updates to be posted, or your can follow me on Twitter (@ExploreCusco) to get updates on breaking news during the day. You can also follow me on Instagram (@SouthAmericanTraveler) for great photos, but I use Twitter for news updates.)
Machu Picchu To Open Soon?
Andina News reports that the Municipality of Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes) has confirmed that it already has in place a health protocol to prevent the spread of COVID-19 for the the reactivitation of Machu Picchu.
It assured that social distancing, permanent and correct use of face masks, cleaning, constant hand-washing, and shoe disinfection will be strictly complied with to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in the area.
One of the measures indicates that passengers —whose temperatures exceed 37.6°C— will not be allowed to take any train. Temperatures will be measured prior to boarding the rail transport service from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu Town and communities.
Attorney Fidel Villagra —who represents Mayor Darwin Baca— pointed out that an “internal protocol was also implemented, following the instructions of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health (Minsa), which was adapted to our reality.” He added that “it will be replicated at all times and frequencies provided by the railway company.”
In Machu Picchu District (Urubamba Province), citizen security personnel, Inspection Department members, and Environment Sub-Management Department staff are on the alert to implement prevention methods so that the arrival of passengers can be conducted responsibly.
Cusco Region Governor Jean Paul Benavente —who recently tested positive for COVID-19 and currently complies with home isolation measures — affirmed that Machu Picchu Citadel would responsibly reopen at the end of this month.
Daily COVID Update from Minsa
The Ministry of Health reported 4,406 new cases of COVID-19 and 195 COVID-related deaths.
While this is the highest total number of new cases in over a month, it is also a result of increased testing. The positivity rate of reported tests (17.7%) actually was the lowest in nine days.
There are 12,747 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, of which 1,342 are in ICU with mechanical ventilation. So far 248,746 people completed their period of home isolation or were discharged from a health facility.
Metropolitan Lima continues to be the area with the highest number of Covid-19 infections, with 179,560 positive cases, and Lima provinces with 13,980 cases folowed by the regions of Callao (19,966), Piura (19,782), Lambayeque (15,922), La Libertad (13,355), Loreto (10,384), Ancash (10,529), Ucayali (9278), Ica (10,223), Arequipa (10,676), San Martín (7109), Junín (6172), Tumbes (3831), Huánuco (5108), Amazonas (4278), Cajamarca (4458), Madre de Dios (2700), Ayacucho (2936), Cusco (2839), Pasco (1504), Moquegua (1995), Puno (1450), Tacna (2008), Huancavelica (1312) and Apurímac (732).
Free Historical Sites
You may have forgotten that the Government of Peru has allowed that most major cultural and historical sites as well as major museums and natural areas will be free for certain people until the end of the year in an attempt to encourage tourism.
[Note: I’m not sure what is open yet across the country. No major sites or museums are open yet in the Cusco region including Machu Picchu.]
The government has also authorized 10 million soles to subsidize these free entries for public servants, minors and senior citizens, both national and foreign, to all places administered by the Ministry of Culture and the National Service of Natural Areas Protected by the State (Sernanp).
Among the cultural sites of free access for the referred people are the Chavin Archaeological Site (Ancash), Nazca Lines and Geoglyphs (Ica), National Museum of Peruvian Culture (Lima), Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum, Bruning National Archaeological Museum, Sican National Museum (Lambayeque), The Archaeological Complex of Chan Chan, the Archaeological Complex Huacas del Sol y Luna – Moche, the Archaeological Complex Huaca el Brujo (La Libertad), the Archaeological Monument of Kuelap (Amazonas), the Julio C. Tello de Paracas Site Museum (Ica), the Archaeological Monumental Zone of Kotosh: the Temple of the Crossed Hands, the Temple of the Nichites, the White Temple (Huánuco), the Archaeological Monument of Pachacámac and Site Museum, the Archaeological Complex Mateo Salado, the Archaeological Monument of Caral-Supe, World Heritage Site (Lima), the Archaeological Parks of Tipon, Pikillacta, Ollantaytambo, Pisaq, Chinchero and the Archaeological Park of Saqsayhuaman (Cusco), the Archaeological Sites of Qenqo, Puka Pukara, Tambomachay in Cusco, and the Regional Site Museum of Cusco and the Archaeological Park of Machupicchu, the Inca Trail network and the “Manuel Chávez Ballón” Site Museum of Machupicchu (Cusco), among others.
Minster of Health on a Arequipa and a Return to Quarantine
Health Minister Pilar Mazzetti left open the possibility of a return to a general quarantine if the cases of the new coronavirus in the country continue to increase, as is being seen in the daily reports issued by the government.
“There is always (the possibility of returning to a quarantine), I am not going to say no. There are alternatives that we have to consider. That is why our call to the population to please respect the rules. This virus kills. And if the situation becomes complicated again, we will be forced to make tougher decisions,” she said in Ampliacion de Noticias.
Mazzetti acknowledged that the daily balance sheet is showing, since last Friday, a growth in the number of infections, which translates into more hospitalizations and patients in intensive care units (ICU). However, the minister said they will wait a week to do a full analysis.
“We are seeing a slow and progressive increase in the numbers in hospitals and ICUs. (…) We have to analyse what the values are, because the virus kills, but let’s remember that hunger and desperation also kill us, and we have to find a balance,” she said.
The minister said that if the pandemic continues to grow in the country, “we are going to get sicker and the health system is having limits in all parts of the world.
Mazzetti also said that the Government is evaluating the possibility of intervening directly in Arequipa, given the crisis in the region due to the increase in cases of COVID-19.
“This is a decision that we have been evaluating since the trip we made this weekend. We have discussed it with the president (Martín Vizcarra) [and] with the president of EsSalud (Fiorella Molinelli), which is part of the system we have there. It is a decision that is pending decisions made by the Regional Government during today and tomorrow,” he said.
In making an assessment of the situation in the southern region, the high official considered that what is happening in Arequipa is “an example of what can happen when we are not united.
“United we can resist, but if there are discrepancies and everyone goes in different directions, we are obviously not going to be able to resist this situation,” she said.
Agriculture Minister Jorge Luis Montenegro told RPP Noticias that President Martin Vizcarra “has taken note” of the request from medical associations in Arequipa for the Executive to intervene in the region and take control of the management of the COVID-19 epidemic.
He indicated that the request will be discussed on Wednesday at the meeting of the president with the Council of Ministers. “Tomorrow, Wednesday, there will be an alternative to the request […] it will be widely debated, what would be the mechanism of integration by the scenario of the pandemic,” he said.
COVID in Cusco
After no report yesterday, a abbreviated report was published last night from The Regional Health Directorate of Cusco showing 297 new cases over the past 2 days. That’s a significant drop from the previous week’s reports, but the amount of testing was very low as well — likely because of the weekend. (Testing positivity rose to 9.5%.)
Of concern are the 11 new deaths reported over the previous two days. As has been the case for quite awhile, no details on the deceased have been released including location or any potential comorbidity.
Over the weekend, Diresa continued to conduct tests among vendors in Cusco’s major markets. Here are the results from the most recent testing:
San Sebastian market – 180 tests, 14 positives (7.8%)
Vinocanchon market – 144 tests, 8 positives (5.6%)
Ccorao market – 78 tests, 2 positives (2.6%)
Mercado de Productores – 40 tests, 1 positive (2.5%)
These numbers are significant drops from the percentages discovered from the first market testing during the quarantine. However, RPP Noticias reports that authorities are considering closing the markets of San Pedro, Huancaro, Ccascaparo, Wanchaq, Ttio for a few days.
Cusco Street Closures
Some Cusco streets will be closed for repair. Here is the schedule as provided by the city municipality:
Improvements Coming for Serpost?
PRESS RELEASE — With the purpose of reviewing and analyzing current regulations on postal matters, the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC) and Servicios Postales del Perú (Serpost), a company attached to the sector, will form a multi-sector working group. Some of its objectives will be to optimize service provision and propose recommendations for the modernization of the national designated operator.
“The mandatory social isolation, as a result of COVID-19, has shown the need to bet more on technological options, and the idea is that Serpost will make a turn in favor of e-commerce,” said José Aguilar, General Director of Communications Policies and Regulation.
In addition, the regulatory framework governing the postal service, which dates back to 1991, needs to be updated. The infrastructure, which is designed for correspondence, needs to be modernized and the service has migrated to parcels.
According to the assessment made, it is essential to reinforce the operational sustainability and strengthen the financial situation of the company responsible for providing the postal service on behalf of the State.
“There is a need to boost e-commerce for the benefit of all citizens. The logistic and operational base is located in Serpost,” said Aguilar Reátegui.
The referred multi-sector working group will be installed within five working days from the publication of the Ministerial Resolution No. 0412-2020-MTC/01.03, which provides for the formation of the labor delegation.
At the end of 45 working days, the committee must present a final report to the holder of the MTC with the proposed recommendations for the achievement of the objectives set forth in the ministerial resolution.
The aforementioned team is made up of a representative of the MTC, who chairs it; the Fund for the Financing of State Business Activity (FONAFE); the Ministry of Production; and the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism.
The working group may convene public or private institutions, civil society organizations or professionals specialized in the field, national or international, whose participation is deemed necessary for the achievement of its objectives, without generating expenses to the public treasury.
Misc News Highlights
- According to an estimate by the Machu Picchu District Municipality (also known as Aguas Calientes, the town near the base of Machu Picchu), businesses generated daily income for a total of 5,200,000 soles. Restaurants and hotels produced an average daily income of 2,593,566, transportation earned 1,876,489, sale of handicrafts earned 299,656, and shops and other items earning 39,898. All of that has since disappeared with the closing of Machu Picchu on March 16.
- If you are intrigued by offers to visit the new tourist attraction of Pallay Punchu several hours south of Cusco which is a brilliantly colored mountain similar to Vinicunca (“Rainbow Mountain) and Palccoyo, please keep in mind that it is not yet approved for visitation and open by the villages which control it. Don’t let scam agencies take your money for a tour they can’t provide. It has apparently become a problem big enough for the Ministry of Culture to comment on it.
- The Ministry of Health received 30 basic mechanical fans manufactured by the Peruvian Navy, with the financial support of the National Confederation of Private Business Institutions (Confiep). “These thirty fans are the first of a batch of one hundred that will be delivered during the next few days to the Ministry of Health. As the Peruvian Navy, we are proud that our equipment will allow more Peruvians to live,” said Admiral Raul Fernando Cerdan, commander general of the Peruvian Navy.
- The Provincial Municipality of Trujillo reported 320 workers infected with COVID-19.
- Family members of COVID-19 patients blocked access to a private medical oxygen plant in the center of the city of Chiclayo, after the company announced that it would not sell oxygen, as it is supplying other regions of the country. The people placed a vehicle at the company’s door to prevent cars from leaving the plant, and also protested and demanded that they fill their balloons with oxygen.
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