"No country has been harder hit by Covid than my native Peru. Officially, the virus has claimed 33,600 lives from a total population of 32 million – the worst fatality rate in the world. But the real figure is far higher. Peru has a rickety public health system, and relied on Chinese antibody tests rather than PCR tests, so many coronavirus casualties went undiagnosed. I spoke to half a dozen Peruvians this week, including a doctor and a government official. All of them thought the true number of Covid deaths was closer to 80,000.
What has turned the ancient seat of Spain’s Viceroyalty into such a global outlier? You might think the answer is obvious, namely that Peru is a poor, sprawling place, with shantytowns, crowded minibuses and teeming markets. But you’d be wrong. Well aware of its situation, Peru decreed what must surely count as the toughest and, relative to infection rates, earliest lockdown on the planet.
On March 16, when there were only 28 confirmed cases, Peru closed its borders and imposed an eye-watering curfew. Men and women were allowed to leave home on alternate days, and only for essential purposes. The restrictions were enforced by the army and, by and large, they were obeyed. Google images showed a massive reduction in the number of people outdoors.
The economic consequences were catastrophic. Even in a wealthy country such as Britain, closures hit folk with cash-in-hand jobs much harder than people who can work from home. In Peru, where around two thirds of the economy is informal, things ground to a halt. Yet it did not slow the virus. Peru’s excess deaths – the number of people who have died in 2020 as against what would normally be expected – are the highest in the world." Telegraph
I was in Iquitos once. A small group of SF sergeants from 8th Group in Panama were there for six months in 1966 doing some sort of training for the local forces of order. They got bored after a few months and decided in their happy, goofy way to stage the death and funeral of one of the team, someone popular with the townspeople.
The city dwellers mourned and followed the horse drawn hearse to the plaza in front of the cathedral. The vehicle was one of those glass sided things with black plumes on the heads of the horses. The deceased was laid out on top of the hearse surrounded with flowers. Eulogies were spoken. The city brass band played the "Dead March in Saul."
At the emotional apogee of the thing, the deceased sat up and waved to the crowd and thanked them in fluent Spanish for their concern.
The American ambassador in Lima, far away from Amazonian Iquitos, was not happy when he heard of this episode. For some reason I was sent down there to unscrew this mess. I felt like I needed a new butt after the ambassador got through chewing it, but at Iquitos the city administration told me they thought the funeral was funny and that they wanted our sergeants to stay, especially "El Muerto." pl