This is how Peru became the country with the highest mortality rate from COVID-19

The Citizen
7 min readAug 28, 2020


Although the United States has the highest number of cases and deaths, registering almost 180,000 deaths, its mortality rate is lower than that of Peru because it has 350 million inhabitants

The COVID-19 pandemic is raging in Peru, a population of approximately 30 million that has been unable to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The number of infections exceeded 610,000, with almost 30,000 deaths, according to official data, which does not include probable cases or the excesses of atypical deaths registered during the year.

The latest figures provided by the Peruvian Ministry of Health warn that the country became, as of Wednesday, August 26, the territory with the highest mortality rate in the world from COVID-19, after Belgium corrected its death toll from coronavirus and subtracted 121 deaths from its balance of the impact of the disease.

The rectification of the Belgian authorities has made Peru the country that now holds that grim world record. The ‘mark’ was only a few days away, since the outbreak is far from being controlled in Peru. Hundreds of deaths occur in the sixth country in the world with the most confirmed cases, 613,378 positives, and 28,124 fatalities since March 6 when the first infections were detected.

The deaths from the SARS-CoV-2 virus registered by Peru translate into a mortality rate of 85.8 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, the result of dividing the number of deaths by its national population of 32.6 million inhabitants, according to the latest data from the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI).

For its part, the new death rate from the coronavirus in Belgium stood at 85.5 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, now reporting 9,878 deaths among a population of just over 11.5 million inhabitants.

The Belgian government made this correction to its death toll from coronavirus, after initially considering suspected cases as part of the official figures for the pandemic.

The rectification was announced this Wednesday after reviewing in detail a series of deaths in nursing homes that had been counted twice or whose causes of death did not match the symptoms produced by the coronavirus.

Suspected cases in Peru

The situation in Belgium, where the authorities sought to sincere the data through the verification of each case, contrasts with the health crisis unleashed in Peru, where there are still thousands of suspicious deaths from coronavirus that are not included in governmental reports.

In total, there are more than 65,000 ‘excess’ deaths registered since the start of the pandemic, compared to previous years. Since March, deaths in Peru have increased 120% over the previous two years.

According to the data, suspicious deaths in Peru amount to 10,443, according to the latest report published on August 18 by the National Center for Epidemiology, Prevention and Control of Diseases of the Ministry of Health.

Even so, without counting those suspected cases and taking into account only the confirmed deaths after having tested positive in the discard tests of COVID-19, Peru is the ninth country in the world in number of deaths, an alarming position when considering that giant nations are ahead of Peru. in extension and population.

For example, although the United States is the country with the highest number of cases and deaths, registering almost 180,000 deaths, but its mortality rate is lower than that of Peru, because it has 350 million inhabitants. Currently, this indicator is around 54 deaths per 100,000 people.

The same situation occurs in Brazil, second on the list because of the number of infections and deaths, adding more than 117,000 deaths, but among a population of 210 million people it translates into 55 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.

Another giant affected by the pandemic is Mexico, with more than 62,000 deaths. However, its mortality rate is barely half that of Peru, with 49 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.

After Peru and Belgium, the next countries with the highest mortality rates are the United Kingdom and Spain, with 62 and 61 deaths per 100,000 people, respectively.

During the pandemic period, the National System of Deaths (Sinadef) has registered peaks of almost 700 deaths a day — nationwide — from any cause, but these values have been decreasing for two weeks in a slow decrease to pre-pandemic values when they were about 200 per day.

Peru compared to Venezuela

Both Peru and Venezuela have an average population of around 30 million people. However, the behavior of the pandemic in both countries is totally different, a situation that is specifically reflected in the numbers of infections and deaths from COVID-19.

The most recent figures for both South American countries give an account of this. This Wednesday, August 26, in a single day, Peru registered almost half of the deaths that Venezuela has in total since the first cases of COVID-19 were detected on March 13.

According to the Ministry of Health of Peru (Minsa), the death toll on Wednesday was 123 people, for a total of 28,124 fatalities since March 6 when the first cases were detected in the Andean country.

Since then, Peru has a total of 613,378 confirmed infections, of those 5,996 were added this Wednesday according to what was published by Minsa and “correspond to tests carried out on August 25”.

In addition, it adds that of the total confirmed cases, 13,051 patients have required hospitalization, 1,512 of them in intensive care units with mechanical ventilation. “To date, 421,877 people have completed their period of home isolation or were discharged from a health facility”, informed the Peruvian institution.

The Peruvian reality regarding the virulent behavior of COVID-19 is due to the few health security measures applied when the first infections were known. Also, the excessive flexibility measures applied by the government of Martín Vizcarra, putting the interest of the economic sectors above the lives of citizens, played their part in this situation.

Among these flexibility measures are the normalization of domestic flights, although trips abroad remain closed. Peru, which is currently experiencing a state of emergency with focalized quarantine, is advancing in the progressive reactivation of its economy, under which some economic sectors have begun to function.

Although the country started three of the four planned phases, the last one has been paralyzed due to the outbreak of infections registered in recent days. However, the Government plans to meet next Monday, August 31 to evaluate when this last stage could begin.

According to statements made by the Minister of Production, José Salardi, in this new meeting of the Multisectoral Commission “the opportune moment to reopen this fourth phase” will be defined, which was originally planned for August.

The Venezuelan case

Meanwhile, the Venezuelan case, which confirmed its first two infections a week after Peru, and which implemented strict measures of confinement and social distancing, has managed to contain the chain of infections and fatalities at figures that compared to Peru, are really minimal.

On Wednesday, August 26, Venezuela confirmed a total of 794 community cases and 13 imported cases, for a total of 807 new infections; and thus totaling 41,965 since the outbreak began in the country.

Venezuela has an atypical behavior to that of other countries, since through its land borders with Brazil and Colombia, more than 70,000 people have returned from countries such as Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Chile, among others, which due to the overflow and lack of control of the infections have been left totally vulnerable, without work and thrown into the streets for not having the means to pay the rents.

Among these cases of people returned from abroad by land, more than 5,000 had tested positive for COVID-19.

Currently, Venezuela applies a series of flexibilization measures that are implemented by regions and according to the behavior of the pandemic in each entity. In the border areas, the measures are kept in radical quarantine, where only the prioritized sectors have permission to work.

In the cases when the quarantine is partially relaxed, other businesses such as clothing, footwear, spare parts, banks and shopping centers are opened; while in cities, where generalized flexibility is applied, permission is given to open all sectors to boost the country’s economy.

These measures are part of the 7 + 7 plan applied by the Government of President Nicolás Maduro, which basically works with one week to work according to the type of flexibility level, and another week of radical quarantine, where only essential sectors work.



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