LIMA (Reuters) – Peru has exceeded 100,000 cases of coronavirus, the Health Ministry reported Wednesday, as the outbreak has triggered demand for medicines and their prices, generating consumer outrage and threats of government sanctions.
The South American country is serving a quarantine of just over two months in search of stopping the pandemic that has practically paralyzed the local economy and left millions without jobs.
Coronavirus cases rose to 104,020, compared to 99,483 in Tuesday’s report, while the death toll rose to 3,024 people, from 2,914 deaths in the previous report, according to data released by the Ministry of Health.
The number of cases in Peru – the second highest in Latin America after Brazil – has doubled in two weeks and confirms that it continues to grow rapidly, which has caused not only the collapse of hospitals but also the shortage of medicines for treat patients for COVID-19.
Peru recorded its first confirmed case on March 6 and in 25 days it reached 1,000 infections. It took just 14 more days to add 10,000 cases on April 14, according to a Reuters count.
Local police carried out interventions on Wednesday in several pharmacies in Lima, where the prices of basic medicines such as acetaminophen, amoxicillin and azithromycin have risen up to 10 times. In some centers, they were also allegedly hoarding medicines, according to authorities.
“There are even adulterated products, which endanger people,” said police colonel Jorge Pérez.
The Ministry of Health’s pharmaceutical surveillance unit said the price of an azithromycin tablet has risen to an equivalent of $ 6, from minus 70 cents before the pandemic.
In addition, people had to wait in long lines to buy medicines, generating inconvenience and many complaints.
President Martín Vizcarra announced an inspection on the sale of drugs on Tuesday and said he will approve a rule to incorporate a list of mandatory generics – not brands – for pharmacies, subject to sanctions and penalties.
The quarantine in Peru will last until May 24. Some sectors of the economy such as mining, fishing, restaurants for home sales and construction have gradually restarted their activities, complying with health protocols under official supervision.
(Report by Marco Aquino, in collaboration with Reuters TV. Edited by Rodrigo Charme and Javier Leira)