Long lines in Lima for Covid tests amid increase in infections

Lima, Jan 4 (EFE).- The free Covid-19 testing centers in Lima are once again full on Tuesday amid the increase in infections and in hospitalizations at health centers, a situation that seems to confirm the arrival of a third wave of the pandemic in Peru.

At different points around the capital, people began gathering early in the morning to stand in long lines waiting to get Covid tests, lines that often stretch for several blocks.

Just as health authorities expected, the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations resulted in close crowding and contacts that have aided the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus in Lima and other cities around the country.

The head of the EsSalud social security agency, Mario Carhuapoma, told Canal N that the Health Ministry on Tuesday will evaluate whether to issue a disease alert over the imminent beginning of a third pandemic wave in Peru.

“The trend is on the upswing, so the Health Ministry with the other institutions will evaluate is we will make official the possibility of a third wave, even as we have to keep working to take care of ourselves,” he said.

Carhuapoma added that the Villa Panamericana, where a health center to treat moderate Covid cases has been set up, is currently 95 percent occupied and he announced that two additional sections of the facility will be outfitted to provide an additional 420 beds.

Meanwhile, the director of Public Health Monitoring for the ministry, Cesar Munayco, said that “on the national level there has been a noteworthy increase (in the Omicron variant) and this is particularly true in Metropolitan Lima.”

“Cases have almost doubled compared to last week. These cases are located in (the capital districts of) Miraflores, San Isidro, Surco, Jesus Maria and Magdalena,” he told RPP Noticias.

Meanwhile, other regions of the country showing a moderate increase in cases include Amazonas, Lambayeque, Moquegua, Tacna and Piura.

When asked about the probable start of a third wave, Munayco added that if one wants to talk “about the peak on the national level, it could come a little after January because at this time Lima is (the place) that has the most explosive rate.”

“This increase in Lima and other regions is due to the festivities. This increase is due to Christmas, but what’s occurred over New Year’s is still missing,” in terms of the caseload, he added.

He estimated that “in Lima (the infection peak) will probably be in January are early February, but on the national level it would be a little (later).”

According to official figures provided by the Health Ministry, 1,376 new infections have been detected in the last 24 hours, bringing the official infection total in Peru since the start of the pandemic to 2,304,674.

In addition, there are currently 3,609 patients hospitalized for Covid-19, while the official average daily death toll remains at 14 and the total number of deaths, as of Monday, rose to 202,818.

EFE mmr/amr/dmt/bp

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