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  • 1,660 new Covid-19 infections were reported in Peru over the last 24 hours.

    1,660 new Covid-19 infections were reported in Peru over the last 24 hours. | Photo: EFE/Paolo Aguilar

Published 23 December 2020
Opinion

Peru becomes the fifth country in Latin America to reach one million confirmed cases.

Peruvian health officials reported 1,000,153 cases as of Tuesday evening, making it the fifth nation in South America to exceed one million cases and the 17th worldwide. With over 37,000 deaths from COVID-19, the Andean nation exhibits the world’s second-highest per capita death toll from the pandemic, according to data compiled by John Hopkins University.

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With a population of 32 million, the Andean nation established lockdown measures back in March as the pandemic was spreading throughout Europe. But despite closing its airports for almost six months and and imposing stay-at-home orders for its citizens, the country which has been burried in layers of political and social crises has been unable to contain the spread of the pandemic.

Peru's informal economy accounts for 70 percent of the workforce making it extremely difficult for the majority of people to stay at home and making it difficult to maintain the enforcement of a lockdown. Neighbourhoods on the periphery of large cities like Lima have scant resources, and the scarcity of water in particular has made these areas focal points for infection.

The country has also recently been rocked by political turmoil. President Martin Vizcarra was impeached by congress in November over bribes that he allegedly took from a construction company while he was a state governor. He was replaced by congressional President Manuel Merino, who lasted mere days in office as big protests forced him to resign.

Congress then appointed a new President, Francisco Sagasti, whose government is currently struggling to purchase coronavirus vaccines from international laboratories and he recently blamed the Vizcarra administration for not completing a purchase from Pfizer of nine million vaccine doses. The country is expected to go to elections in April, when 22 candidates are registered to faceoff, the majority of which represent right-wing interests and parties. According to a recent Ipsos poll, no candidate is currentely receiving more than 18% of voter intention at this stage, and about a third of all voters surveyed say they don't support any candidate or don't know who to vote for. 

Brazil continues to top the list, with 7.3 Million Covid-19 cases, a number equal to about half of the total number of cases in all of Latin America and the Caribbean (14.8 Million). Brazil is followed by Argentina and Colombia with just over 1.5 Million cases each, and Mexico with just over 1.3 Million.

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