Saturday, July 11, 2020
I’m no expert on Peruvian politics, but it appears that Congress may have been the first to blink in its face off with the administration over Constitutional changes against corruption as evidenced by the the apology of the President of the Constitutional Commission (see below).
To be honest, I’ve wondered if they were wise to go up against an immensely popular President in a time of global pandemic.
The COVID situation in the Cusco region is certainly worrisome, but I wonder if the situation is not quite as bad as promoted. The rise in cases is definitely not “exponential” as reported. A significant increase in testing is resulting in an increase number of reported cases, but the percentage of positive test results actually dropped by 11% yesterday.
Cusco hasn’t been testing much all along, so an increase in numbers is no surprise as is an increase in hospitalizations, but the concern likely a factor of a prior lack of facilities more than any drastic increase.
The head of the Regional Health Directorate said that people are not following social distancing and even mask-wearing rules, but that is something I have not seen while spending considerable time walking the streets of Cusco.
For a city of around half a million people and a region of more than 1.2 million people, the numbers are still tiny. Only 0.2% of the regional population has been infected. If they were releasing numbers of the population that have are considered recovered, we’d see an even smaller percentage that are currently infected.
(Obviously, the number of cases is larger — likely much larger — but even then it is still small and apparently not growing at a rate anywhere near the rest of the country and much of the world.)
Great news — the percentage of positive test results reported nationwide today continues to steadily drop and is the lowest in since May 31!
Zeballos: Economy Will Be 100% in Phase 4
Andina News reports that the President of the Council of Ministers, Vicente Zeballos, predicted today that the economy will operate at 100% next August with the approval of phase 4 of the resumption of economic activities.
“The fourth phase of the resumption of economic activities would take place in August to reach (an economy operating) at 100% but always taking over what is health. If at some point the panorama leads us to make the decision, the health of Peruvians must prevail,” he said.
He specified that the first is the second phase of Reactiva Peru. “We have approved Reactiva Peru 2 which will place 30 billion soles in credit with the State’s guarantee,” he said.
He added that the Mype (Micro and Small) Business Support Fund (FAE) was also approved, which at first had a budget of 300 million soles and later was increased by 800 million soles.
He said that the FAE Tourism was also created with 500 million soles and the FAE Agro with a budget of 2 billion soles.
“This is an injection that we are giving to the economic ones that will be added to the program Arranca Peru”
He also said that 4 billion soles will be spent on road maintenance by the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC) in coordination with sub-national governments.
“We are also working on housing bonds through the Ministry of Housing and also on classroom maintenance by the Ministry of Education,” he said.
He said that these actions will allow 2020 to grow negatively because of the pandemic, but with a smaller margin.
“With responsibility, commitment, planning and order this year things will be corrected. Our expectation is that by the end of the year we will close in the red, but with a small margin,” he said.
In this sense, he projected that a 7% expansion of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected in 2021.
“The international economic entities affirm that the pandemic is hitting the economies of the world and put special emphasis on our country, but also point out that one of the countries that will stand out in 2021, recovering the economic loss will be Peru,” he emphasized.
President of the Constitution Commission Apologizes
The President of the Constitution Commission, Omar Chehade (RPP), said today that he is the first to apologize to the population for the “misunderstanding” in the constitutional reform on parliamentary immunity approved in Congress.
“We all have the willingness to apologize to the country for this misunderstanding…I am the first to do so,” he said on Canal N.
He maintained, as a self-criticism for the way the substitute text that modifies parliamentary immunity and eliminates the prerogatives for high public officials was approved, that many of the proposals were rushed.
In that sense, he considered that perhaps there should have been a little more calm “in the face of the onslaught of the Executive Branch that brought forward the electoral calendar.”
He also said that the reforms approved in Congress by majority will not be subject to a secure vote and that there will be a cycle of sessions with presentations by constitutionalists, political leaders and organized society.
Through his social networks, moreover, the legislator assured that constitutional reforms can be reviewed and regretted that the work of this working group has been unfairly criticized.
“The commitment of the Constitution and Regulations Commission to Peru is enormous. We will continue to work tirelessly to improve the political conditions of our country and safeguard the well-being of all Peruvians,” he said.
Daily COVID Update from Minsa
The Ministry of Health (Minsa) reported 3,064 new cases of COVID-19 and 182 COVID-related deaths this afternoon.
The great news is that the percentage of positive test results reported continues to steadily drop and is the lowest in the past 41 days — since May 31!
The next week will be very important as the trend after the lifting of the quarantine across most of the country will become more apparent.
There are 11,894 patients hospitalized with Covid-19, of which 1,309 are in ICU with mechanical ventilation. So far 210,638 people completed their period of home isolation or were discharged from a health facility.
Lima continues to be the region with the highest number of Covid-19 infections to date with172,854 followed by the regions of Callao (18,921), Piura (18,394), Lambayeque (14,818), La Libertad (11,629), Loreto (9727), Ancash (9286), Ucayali (8558), Ica (9140), Arequipa (8496), San Martín (6433), Junín (4890), Tumbes (3309), Huánuco (3493), Amazonas (3238), Cajamarca (3216), Madre de Dios (2372), Ayacucho (2178), Cusco (2125), Pasco (1280), Moquegua (1254), Puno (1135), Tacna (1223), Huancavelica (1057) and Apurimac (620).
COVID in Cusco
The Regional Health Directorate in Cusco reported 118 new cases and 4 deaths over the previous 24 hours.
While the number of cases is rising, so is the amount of testing and the actual percentage of positive tests reported yesterday dropped to 4.8%. The lethality rate continues to climb, however, to 16.3%. (Both of these are far below the nationwide average.)
New Molecular Test Seeks Approval
The first implementation stage of UnCovid —a new rapid molecular test to detect COVID-19 cases developed by researchers at Peruvian University of Applied Sciences (UPC)— has been successfully completed.
The clinical validation stage will begin in the coming days, thanks to the funding provided by the National Council for Science and Technological Innovation (Concytec) after the project was named winner of the contest “Special Projects: Category – Emerging Needs Post COVID-19.”
Biologist Vanessa Adaui, leader of the project, explained that this low-cost rapid molecular test uses a fluorescent detection system, that is, a sample is defined as positive for SARS-CoV-2 if fluorescence is observed, and negative if no fluorescence signal is detected.
“The result can be easily visualized using a transilluminator, equipment used by the principal laboratories —in Lima and some provinces— that rely on the minimum equipment for molecular biology techniques,” said Adaui, Doctor of Biomedical Sciences from the University of Antwerp (Belgium).
According to the researcher, this molecular test detects coronavirus presence in around 30 minutes, counted from the moment the virus genetic material —previously amplified by RT-PCR— is analyzed.
In addition, it will be more affordable than other tests currently in use.
“Likewise, UnCovid’s biological components (enzymes, guide RNA molecules) can be produced locally, and we have managed to standardize the process. This makes UnCovid a molecular test that is less dependent on the international supply chain (reagents, chemical inputs, instruments), which is saturated by the health crisis,” she added.
Cusco’s Diresa Head Says Hospitals Nearing Collapse
Diario Correo reported yesterday that the number of COVID-19 cases is “increasing exponentially” in Cusco where authorities expect to move from Phase 3 to Phase 4 at any time according to Darío Navarro, head of the Regional Health Directorate of Cusco.
The doctor said he was quite concerned about the number of people infected at the moment, and pointed out that everything has gotten worse since the mandatory quarantine was lifted on July 1, and that from that date onwards people are doing “whatever they want”.
The COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit was at full capacity and was on the verge of collapse days ago. Fortunately, the number of beds and ventilators was increased, but this would not be enough in the scenario of a major contagion in the region.
According to Dario Navarro, despite the awareness campaigns, the premises of distance and voluntary isolation are not being fulfilled, nor is the use of biosecurity implements when going out on the streets and proper hand washing.
“We must take responsibility for this pandemic, I know that the economic sector must be restarted but I ask the economically active population, which is the one that goes out to work, to think not only of them, but also of the people at risk at home, such as their parents and grandparents,” he said.
If this rate of contagion continues, the specialist said that the COVID-19 services in Cusco will collapse in less than a month and probably in 20 days there will be a very different scenario to face.
“With this liberalization and the end of quarantine, we are seeing a substantial increase in cases of coronavirus, I ask people to be aware and comply with prevention measures. This is not a joke, Cusco could become a disaster scenario, please,” he concluded.
US Repatriation Flights Next Week
One repatriation flight is scheduled this coming week. Solange Reps Tu Mayorista from Lima to Miami (MIA) on Wednesday, July 15. Ticketed passengers should contact Solange Reps directly for meeting times and locations. For additional information, visit https://pe.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information.
Misc News Highlights
- The Peruvian Medical Federation will propose to its Assembly to postpone the strike after dialogue with the Executive. The president of the Federation, Godofredo Talavera, said he hopes to postpone his action in view of the positive response of the government to his claims. The group of doctors had announced a strike for July 15 and 16 because of a series of “accumulated demands”.
- Informal merchants who invaded downtown avenue evicted. They came from different parts of the city to sell various products such as clothes, shoes, among others, without respecting the biosecurity protocols.
- Fourteen elderly adults in a shelter in Callao beat the coronavirus. The residents, who are between 70 and 88 years old, won the battle against the disease thanks to donations from people in solidarity who bought medicine and oxygen.
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