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A Timeline of Covid-19 in Peru and the Peruvian Amazon

Updated: Nov 16, 2020

This is an ongoing review of the "progress" of the novel coronavirus in Peru and the Peruvian Amazon. Information has been garnered from official Peruvian government websites, from first-hand accounts and press releases. I have endeavored to be as accurate as possible, but any errors are mine alone. I take all responsibility at all. For perspective and caveats, please also read the associated blog postings on this website.

Shoeshine boys in the floating slum/city of Belen. Precarious catwalks over the rising flood waters behind them is how people move around this poorest of the poor parts of Iquitos (photo by Don Dean).

16 November 2020 - Well, I'm about to test travel to the Amazon with a planned flight to Peru on 22 November. Even as cases in the USA surge into uncharted and unprecedented territory, the situation in Peru remains pretty stable. Currently there have been 937K confirmed cases nation wide with 35,231 deaths. In the Amazon region of Loreto, confirmed cases (as of 15 Nov) were 23,418, with 981 deaths (certainly an undercount though). For the period of 1-14 November, there were 1178 active cases, a modest drop from the second half of October, but certainly going in the right direction as you can see from the image below (posted 15 Nov).

28 October 2020 - Still looking good in the Peruvian Amazon! During the period of 14-27 October, there were only 1,303 active cases of Covid-19 in Loreto - an area just a bit smaller than California, and very few fatalities. Most restrictions on movement have been lifted, and as of 1 November, Peru opened its airports to flights of up to 8 hours (that includes as far away as New York). Travelers do have to present a negative PCR test upon arrival to avoid quarantine, however. But travel IS possible again! It will still be a long time before the economy recovers, however, and before tourism starts to resemble anything like normal.

16 October 2020 - More good news from the Amazon. I just received the official report for the week of 28 September to 3 October. To date, there have been 53,068 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Department (=state) of Loreto, Peru's largest state in terms of land area. Confirmed deaths total 1,180, and suspected deaths are 1,353 for a total of 2,533 deaths. The good news? For week 40 of the year, there were only 301 new cases, a drop of nearly 66% from the previous week. Best of all, there were no new deaths.

11 October 2020 - As of this date, Peru has reported 849K cases and 33,305 confirmed deaths from Covid-19. Country-wide, there currently ~3K new cases daily, way down from a peak of ~10K in mid August. In Loreto, there have now been 20,193 official cases and 957 confirmed deaths (4.74% lethality - but see the other blogs for perspective). The positivity rate for tests in Loreto now stands at 33.26%, so 1 in 3 residents have been exposed and infected. Word from the street in Iquitos is that life is almost back to "normal", with many people no longer wearing masks in public.

23 September 2020 - finally some good news! I just received a news release from Loreto quoting the regional Minister of Health saying that there had been no fatalities from Covid-19 in the region for the past week, and that the death toll stands at 2,532 in Loreto (that number is more than double what I find on government websites, but is also probably very much closer to the true number). The number of new daily cases country-wide is also slowly declining, additional good news, though some experts are warning of the possibility of a second wave in 2-3 weeks.

21 September 2020: The economy is in shambles, and coronavirus cases continue to grow with 773K reported as of this date, along with 31,474 Covid-19 confirmed deaths. In the state of Loreto, 17,848 cases have been reported with 942 deaths. As of 20 September, testing had a 4.08% positivity nation-wide, while Loreto had a 5.38% positivity rate. The people and country will need considerable assistance to recover from both the health and economic impacts.

12 September 2020: A tragic milestone is reached. With 730K cases confirmed, and 30,710 coronavirus-related deaths, 0.1% of Peru's population has now died of Covid-19 (but the percentage is certainly much higher, perhaps as much as 1% to 2%). To put that in perspective, if the USA had the same health situation, 330,000 citizens would have died by now.

9 September 2020: As of this date, Peru has confirmed 703K cases of Covid-19 infection and 30,236 deaths. With a population of ~33 million people, it has essentially 10% the population size of the USA (~330 million), so on a per-capita basis, it has a higher infection and mortality rate than the USA (@~190,000 deaths). Not an enviable position to be in. In the Amazon region of Loreto (where we work), there were 16,620 confirmed cases and 930 deaths as of 9 September.

8 September 2020: According to Peruvian Ministry of Health (MOH) statistics, Covid-19 cases in Loreto have a 5.6% lethality rate, and testing during the previous week gave a >45% positivity rate, by far the highest rate in the country. MOH figures also revealed that of Covid-19 deaths in Peru, a whopping 70.29% were male, with the vast majority of deaths occurring in the 50-89 age range, and with 60-69 years being the hardest hit among both men and women. []

18 August 2020: Peru reports a lethality rate of 4.85% nation-wide, with Loreto having a lethality rate of 3.6%. []

13 Aug 2020: Peru "ties" with Mexico in number of confirmed cases despite having 1/4 the population of Mexico.

21 July 2020: Agencia EFE reports that 25.3% of the population of the metro capital area (Lima & Callao) have tested positive for Covid-19. A limited number of tests (715) in Iquitos returned a staggering 93% positivity rate.

24 June 2020 – Covid-19 cases in Peru: more than 265K confirmed; 8,681 deaths (officially); in Loreto state, 8,681 confirmed cases with no info on total deaths available.

Houses and fences in Belen are built of whatever materials are available: discarded pieces of rusty tin roofing, plywood strips, rotten boards, plastic and cardboard. None of these houses have electricity or running water and plumbing. Rats have free reign at night and raw sewage seeps through drainage channels. A muddy high-water mark can be seen just above the floor of the house in center back (photo by Don Dean).

12 June 2020 – 206 new fatalities on this date, the highest daily total in Peru so far.

11 June 2020 - Covid-19 cases in Peru: more than 215K confirmed; 6,109 deaths (officially); in Loreto state 7,000 confirmed cases, no info on total deaths available.

2 June 2020 - Covid-19 cases in Peru: more than 170K confirmed; 4,634 deaths (officially); in Loreto state 5,133 confirmed cases, no info on total deaths available

29 May 2020 - Covid-19 cases in Peru: more than 142K confirmed; 4,099 deaths (officially); in Loreto state 3,959 confirmed cases, no info on total deaths available. Fernando Rios (our general manager) returned to Iquitos from Mazan where he reports 40 confirmed cases and 6 deaths; he also reports that many restrictions are being lifted in Iquitos, though stores are still closed, and mask-wearing is obligatory.

24 May 2020 – It is day 70 of quarantine in Peru, yes, day seventy. Covid-19 cases in Peru: more than 116K confirmed; 3,373 deaths (officially); in Loreto state, 3,293 confirmed cases, no info on total deaths available.

22 May 2020 – Covid-19 cases in Peru: more than 109K confirmed; 3,148 deaths (officially); in Loreto state, 3,166 confirmed cases, no info on total deaths available. The country-wide quarantine is extended until 30 June.

20 May 2020 – Covid-19 cases in Peru: 99,483 confirmed; 2,914 deaths (officially); in Loreto state 2,960 confirmed cases, no info on total deaths available. Half of MD deaths in Peru (22 to 24 total) have occurred in Loreto.

18 May 2020 – Covid-19 cases in Peru: 92,272 confirmed; 2648 deaths (officially); in Loreto state 2,696 confirmed cases.

17 May 2020 – Covid-19 cases in Peru: 88,541 confirmed; 2,523 deaths (officially); in Loreto state 2,444 confirmed cases and 1,084 official deaths. One municipality in Loreto is injecting residents with the veterinary anti-parasite drug ivermectin to try and stop the spread. Ivermectin reportedly reduces replication of the virus some 5000-fold. [this has NOT been confirmed by peer-reviewed medical studies to my knowledge].

15 May 2020 – Covid-19 cases in Peru: 80,604 confirmed; 2,267 deaths (officially). Several days later, it was reported that as of 15 May, 840 doctors in Peru had been infected and 20 had died, including a 33-yr old doctor with no underlying health conditions. It was also reported that 4,098 police had been infected and 82 police had died.

14 May 2020 – Covid-19 cases in Peru: 76,306 confirmed; 2,169 deaths (officially).

8 May 2020 – Peru announces that quarantine will be extended from 10 May to 24 May (4th extension).

23 April 2020 – Peru announces that quarantine will be extended from 28 April to 10 May (3rd extension).

11 April 2020 – Peru announces that quarantine will be extended from 14 April to 28 April (2nd extension).

28 March 2020 – Peru announces that quarantine measures will be extended from 1 April to 14 April (1st extension).

24 March 2020 - 50,000 cases in the USA, 600+ deaths, proposals being made to lift restrictions to “not hurt the economy”.

23 March 2020 – 396 confirmed cases and 5 deaths in Peru, country still on lockdown.

20 March 2020 – first confirmed death from Covid-19 in Peru.

17 March 2020: First case of Covid-19 is confirmed in Loreto, Peru's large Amazonian lowland state. This comes as the region is battling outbreaks of dengue and leptospirosis.

16 March 2020: At 11:59 PM, Peru shuts down all air, land and sea borders and institutes strict quarantine measures.

6 March 2020 – First confirmed case of coronavirus in a 25-yr old male in Lima, Peru.

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