By Sriya Krishnan
COVID-19 has significantly impacted every country worldwide, and Peru is no exception. President Martín Vizcarra enforced a nationwide lockdown just less than two weeks after the first case was recorded. His quick response to the pandemic did prove to be very effective. In Peru alone, COVID-19 has caused over 30,000 deaths, holding the third highest fatality rate in Latin America behind Brazil and Mexico. In order to stress the importance of following safety protocols, an ad has been running all of Peru’s TV channels. It shows people spending time with family and playing soccer, but seconds later it cuts to people being sent to hospitals.Jacqueline Fowks, a Lima-based journalist says that Peruvians do not understand how the country has let the virus get to this level.
The majority of Peruvians cannot afford to leave their jobs. They must work to provide for their children and families. Although Peru had a relatively strong economy before COVID-19 struck, the government spent only $680 on healthcare, much less than the average spending in Latin America. According to Dr. Godofredo Talavera, the government fails to follow through on their plans regarding the virus, as they fail to increase the money spent towards health care. Doctors and nurses in Peru protest their lack of medical resources, chanting, “We don’t have oxygen! We don’t have ventilators!” Others believe that the reason COVID-19 numbers are increasing is because the testing is increasing. Mayorga, the World Health Organization representative of Peru believes the number of recorded deaths due to COVID-19 is inaccurate because even if someone dies of something else, if they have received a COVID antibody test, their death is considered one of COVID-19.
Peru’s economy is predicted to be 12% lower than last year by the end of 2020. Miguel Jarmallio, an economics expert with the Lima-based think tank Grade, believes that the government must increase social protection. It will be very hard for young people to find available jobs. The people of Peru are desperate right now. People are losing their jobs, losing sleep, and losing hope. The government must take drastic measures immediately.