Peru Revises Covid-19 Loss of life Whole to Triple Official Figures

Peru said its Covid-19 death toll was almost three times what it officially counted, making it one of the hardest-hit nations relative to its population during the pandemic.

In a report released Monday combining deaths from multiple databases and reclassified deaths, the government said 180,764 people had died from Covid-19 as of May 22, almost tripling the official death toll of around 68,000. The new figure would mean more people died in Peru as a percentage of population than in Hungary and the Czech Republic, the countries with the highest official death tolls per person, according to a database from the New York Times.

The report landed at a precarious time for the Peruvian government, just days before the second round of a closely watched presidential election scheduled for June 6th.

Peru has been struggling to contain the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and its official death toll prior to the revised estimate was already the ninth highest per capita figure in the world. Back in June last year, it was clear that there were far more deaths in Peru than would be expected in a normal year, and the void – a number known as excess deaths – was much larger than the official death toll Covid can be attributed. 19, according to the New York Times. That was a warning sign for experts that Covid deaths were underestimated.

Peru might just be the first of several nations forced to reevaluate the real impact of the pandemic. The World Health Organization said earlier this month that worldwide deaths from Covid-19 are likely much higher than had been recorded.

Health Minister Oscar Ugarte said the Peruvian government will publish more accurate numbers of cases and deaths on a daily basis, based on the new guidelines set out in the report.

“This is a new tool” to help us fight the pandemic, said Mr Ugarte, adding that the new estimate will require “a change” to any current guidelines to control the spread of the virus.

The pandemic only exacerbated the political turmoil in Peru, shaken by the impeachment of President Martín Vizcarra in November. He was one of four presidents who served in five years, three of whom were in jail pending bribery investigations.

The impeachment of Mr Vizcarra sparked protests and took place just months before the first round of the April presidential election. Pedro Castillo, a former union activist and teacher, won the most votes in April and will meet Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of incarcerated former President Alberto Fujimori, on June 6.

The virus is spreading faster in South America than any other continent, according to official figures, with five nations in the top 10 reported worldwide for new cases per person.

The continent’s worst eruption occurs in Argentina, where the Copa América football tournament was due to take place before organizers announced they would move it to Brazil.

“Latin America was one of the regions hardest hit by the pandemic,” said Dr. Michael H. Merson, Professor of Global Health at Duke University. “I suspect other countries in the region will revise their estimates of deaths from Covid-19.”

The spread of the virus has recently slowed in Brazil, which has been hit by a variant known as P.1.

Over the weekend, thousands of Brazilians who were critical of President Jair Bolsonaro took to the streets in the largest public mobilization against the president since the pandemic began. Their show of force in cities across the country followed a series of devastating revelations in congressional hearings examining the government’s disastrous response to the coronavirus, which killed more than 461,000 Brazilians.

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