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News > Latin America

Peru Becomes the Country With Highest Death Rate From COVID-19

  • Mototaxis transport health workers in Cerro El Agustino, Lima, Peru, May 14, 2021.

    Mototaxis transport health workers in Cerro El Agustino, Lima, Peru, May 14, 2021. | Photo: EFE

Published 1 June 2021

Authorities had underreported the number of COVID-related deaths because their accounting tool only included deaths of patients who tested positive for the virus.

Peru became the country with the highest death rate from COVID-19 after President Francisco Sagasti's administration acknowledged that 180,764 people died until May 22.


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The Peruvian mortality rate is 551 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, surpassing Hungary's rate (304). This rate once again placed the country in first place worldwide, a record that Peru already held in August 2020 during the first wave.

The number of COVID-19 related deaths increased after a working group of specialists considered new criteria for the identification of COVID-19 cases and created a new tool to count them.

Previously, underestimation of the magnitude of the pandemic was evident because the National Computerized System of Deaths (SINADEF) only counted deaths of patients who tested positive for the virus. 

Instead, the working group created SINADEF-LAB, a new case counting tool that uses the SINADEF database but enriches it with laboratory data.

The experts used not only the virological criteria related to the presence of a reactive molecular test for SARS-CoV-2 but also six other criteria among which are the existence of positive serological and radiological tests and the registration of suspected cases with clinical pictures compatible with COVID-19 to count the impact caused by the pandemic.

Health Minister Oscar Ugarte ratified his government's commitment to adopt the "immediate action guide" and the new methodology recommended by the working group.

He also explained that the final report of the technical group does not say that "there are more deaths than there were" but that "a significant number of deaths had not been identified as caused by COVID-19".

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