Coronavirus in Peru: the country with the highest mortality rate in the world already feels the threat of the second wave of infections

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Hospitals are left empty after more than half a year collapsed by the pandemic. But they are already preparing for the imminence of outbreaks due to the reopening of the economy.

Hospitals in Peru, the country with the highest mortality rate from COVID-19 in the world and the sixth in number of infections, they stay empty after more than half a year collapsed by the pandemic and now await, with the virus still very active, the threat of a second wave of infections.

Currently there are 7,000 hospitalized patients, just half of those in mid-August, when the pandemic reached its peak with more than 14,000 beds occupied.

In the last six weeks, hospitalizations have plummeted, as now they are increasingly higher than new admissions, which has led to active cases of coronavirus have dropped to 90,000, the lowest figure since the end of May.

It is a light at the end of a long dark tunnel for a country where one in every thousand inhabitants has died from COVID-19, a unique average in the world as a result of its 32,665 deaths, while the infections, although each time they are also less, already exceed 828,000 cases.

With fewer patients to attend to, the Peruvian doctors who have been at the bottom of the canyon all this time present a more positive face behind their masks, because they feel that their long hours and vigils are pushing back COVID-19.

This is the case at the Octavio Mongrut Muñoz Hospital, in Lima, where on Sunday one of the areas of the hospital was closed campaign that had been installed to expand its capacity before the wave of patients who arrived at the doors of this hospital of the Social Health Security (EsSalud).

The area for intermediate care, where there were 76 beds, looks empty and silent, far from the maelstrom of doctors and nurses that had inside it from one place to another until a few days ago.

Villa Mongrut, as the space of this hospital enabled for COVID-19 cases is called, opened at the end of May with 834 beds and at its worst got busy 715, while now it houses about 450, according to what its director, Richar Requena, explained to Efe on Monday.

“May, June and July were the most chaotic months. The doctors, nurses and technicians have worked hard and from the second half of September we have observed a downward trend here, “said Requena.

“We had up to 100 admissions per day. This pandemic has hit us a lot, but it has allowed us have an organizing experience. Building a temporary hospital in our country is not easy, but here we continue to operate, “he added.

The Villa Mongrut is one of the many field hospitals installed by EsSalud in Lima and in the rest of the regions of Peru to face the increased demand for beds demanded by the pandemic, and by the end of August they had already attended more than 20,000 infected by COVID-19.

However, Requena warned that the decrease in mild COVID-19 patients in hospitals has not been the same in intensive care units (ICU), where occupancy is still high. Nationwide there are 1,287 mechanical fans in use, of the more than 1,500 in use that were reached at the end of August.

“That is why we still have to be vigilant, but in these months the deficiencies have been overcome and we believe that this second wave can be faced in the most appropriate way, “said Requena.

The first region to see that its wards were left empty and its beds unoccupied with COVID-19 patients was Loreto, the largest department in Peru, located in the Amazon, whose hospitals were the first to collapse. with an exponential increase of coronavirus cases.

Currently Loreto only has twelve patients hospitalized for COVID-19 and the situation is normal in the hospitals of Iquitos, the regional capital, after dramatic scenes were experienced in April and May with crowded patients precariously in its corridors.

In the last three weeks there have only been three deaths from coronavirus, away also from the corpses piled up in plastic bags in the regional hospital morgue, whose images went viral on social networks.

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