Peru Temporarily Suspends Clinical Trials Of Chinese COVID-19 Vaccine

FILES) In this file photo taken on December 8, 2020, a member of staff draws the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine out of a phial at the Southmead Hospital, Briston. The US Food and Drug Administration on December 11, 2020, granted the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine an emergency use authorization, paving the way for its imminent rollout across the country.
Graeme Robertson / AFP / POOL

 

Peru has temporarily suspended clinical trials of a Covid vaccine made by Chinese drug giant Sinopharm after detecting neurological problems in one of its test volunteers.

The National Institute of Health said Friday that it had decided to interrupt the trial after a volunteer had difficulty moving their arms, according to local media.

“Several days ago we signaled, as we are required, to the regulatory authorities that one of our participants (in trials) presented neurological symptoms which could correspond to a condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome,” said chief researcher German Malaga in comments to the press.

Guillain-Barre syndrome is a rare and non-contagious disorder that affects the movement of the arms and legs. Peru declared a temporary health emergency in five regions in June last year following multiple cases.

In the 1970s a campaign to innoculate Americans against a supposedly devastating strain of swine flu ground to a halt after some 450 of those vaccinated developed the syndrome, which can also cause paralysis.

Peru’s clinical trials for the Sinopharm vaccine were due to conclude this week, after testing around 12,000 people.

If they are successful — which won’t be known until mid-2021 — the Peruvian government was expected to buy up to 20 million doses to inoculate two-thirds of its population.

60,000 across the globe have already taken the Sinopharm vaccine, including volunteers in Argentina, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.

Peru has one of the world’s highest per capita death rates from the virus, which Cas of Friday had caused 36,499 deaths and 979,111 infections.

The pandemic has hit the South American country’s economy hard, with GDP plunging more than 30 percent in the second quarter.

-AFP

Peru Gets New President, The Third In One Week

Handout photo released by the Peruvian Congress of Francisco Sagasti, 76, Peruvian engineer, academic, and author, congressman and spokesman for the conservative Morado (Purple) Party, in picture taken on September 11, 2020. Peruvian Congress / AFP

 

Peru’s Congress on Monday chose a 76-year-old former World Bank official as the South American country’s new president, the third in a week.

Francisco Sagasti was elected as lawmakers met to try to find a way out of a political crisis, sparked by the impeachment of one popular president and the resignation of his controversial successor amid protests which killed two people.

Sagasti, a centrist, will serve as interim president until the end of July 2021, completing the mandate of Martin Vizcarra, who was impeached by Congress last Monday.

His successor, former Congress speaker Manuel Merino, resigned on Sunday after days of street protests during which two demonstrators were killed.

Congress was meeting for a second time to agree a president and Sagasti secured the minimum 60 votes required.

A first attempt by the legislature to agree on a president failed on Sunday, when leftist lawmaker Rocio Silva Santisteban, won just 42 votes.

AFP

Peru President Merino Resigns Following Street Protests

In this file picture taken on November 10, 2020 the head of the Peruvian Congress, Manuel Merino (R), waves after being sworn in as interim president in Lima, a day after the Congress voted to impeach and oust President Martin Vizcarra over corruption allegations. Cesar Von BANCELS / AFP

 

Peru’s President Manuel Merino resigned Sunday, just five days after taking office, sparking celebrations in the capital Lima following street protests against him and the ousting of his popular predecessor.

“I want to let the whole country know that I’m resigning,” Merino said in a televised address, a day after a police crackdown on protesters left at least two people dead.

READ ALSO: Peru President Faces Calls To Resign After Three Protesters Killed

Merino, 59, resigned shortly after a crisis session of Congress called on him to quit power before 6:00 pm (2300 GMT) or face censure.

Congress is expected to appoint a new president — the South American country’s third in a week — in a new session called for 6:00 pm.

Thousands have taken to the streets in days of protests against Merino following the ouster of his predecessor Martin Vizcarra, who was impeached on corruption allegations on Monday.

Congress’ ultimatum came after the health ministry said two protesters were killed on Saturday during a massive and peaceful march in Lima, which was repressed by police firing shotgun pellets and tear gas.

File photo: Demonstrators hold a protest against the new government of interim President Manuel Merino, following the impeachment and removal of former Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra, at the San Martin square in Lima on November 12, 2020, ERNESTO BENAVIDES / AFP

 

Merino said that in order to avoid a “power vacuum” the 18 ministers he swore in on Thursday would temporarily remain in their posts, though almost all had resigned in the wake of Saturday’s deadly protest.

The resignation was greeted by noisy celebrations in Lima, with demonstrators taking to the streets sounding horns and banging pots.

AFP

Peru President Faces Calls To Resign After Three Protesters Killed

Demonstrators, supporters of Peruvian ousted President Martin Vizcarra, holding a Peruvian flag, clash with riot police during a protest against the government of interim president Manuel Merino in Lima on November 14, 2020. PHOTO: ERNESTO BENAVIDES / AFP

 

The head of Peru’s Congress has called for the “immediate resignation” of interim president Manuel Merino after a violent crackdown on protests against his new government left at least three dead and more than 60 injured.

Thousands have taken to the streets in days of protests against Merino following the ouster of his popular predecessor Martin Vizcarra, who was impeached on corruption allegations on Monday.

“I ask Mr. Merino to evaluate his immediate resignation,” Congress head Luis Valdez said in a statement on Saturday night.

Lawmakers will meet in an emergency session on Sunday to discuss Merino’s resignation, a statement released later on the Congress Twitter account said.

The ultimatum came after news of the death of three protesters during a massive and peaceful march in Lima, which was violently repressed by police firing shotgun pellets and tear gas.

Lima mayor Jorge Munoz, from the same center-right Popular Action party as Merino, also demanded the resignation of the president.

“I just found out about the third death” in the protests, said the Archbishop of Lima, Carlos Castillo, deploring the police crackdown in a statement to state television.

Police reported two deaths, while the National Human Rights Coordinator indicated it was investigating whether there were four.

The Ombudsman’s Office said the first fatality, a 25-year-old man, was killed by pellet shots to the head and face. At least 63 protesters were injured, the health ministry said.

The police tactics have been criticized by the UN and rights organizations such as Amnesty International since the protests began on Tuesday.

 

– Ministers resign –

Seven of the 18 ministers in Merino’s cabinet announced their resignation Saturday night after the police crackdown, according to local media.

The political crisis appeared to be heading towards the resignation of Merino, whose whereabouts were unknown early Sunday.

“I’m calling him and I can’t get through, I have no idea if he has resigned. I’m not a fortune teller,” Prime Minister Antero Flores Araoz, the government’s number two, told RPP radio.

Lima’s international airport said it was closed due to the night curfew.

Merino has remained silent since the crackdown on Saturday and the call for his resignation.

At around 2:00 am (0700 GMT) Sunday, the government released a photo of Merino meeting with his cabinet, but doubts arose as to when it was taken because it showed the health minister who had resigned hours earlier.

 

– Tear gas –

Thousands took to the streets on Saturday in opposition to Merino, the former Congress speaker who assumed office on Tuesday as Peru’s third president in four years.

The mostly young protesters gathered in various cities to oppose what they call a parliamentary coup against ousted president Vizcarra.

The largest march in Lima attracted thousands of people, with police again using tear gas fired from helicopters to disperse protesters who were threatening to march towards the Congress building.

They carried signs reading “Merino, you are not my president” and “Merino impostor” while chanting.

The municipal authorities in Lima turned off the public lighting in Plaza San Martin on the crowd gathered there.

The plaza has been the center of protests in the capital.

A group of protesters approached the area around Merino’s home, east of Lima, banging pots and drums.

Archbishop of Trujillo Miguel Cabrejos urged the government to engage in dialogue and respect the right to protest.

“It is essential to listen and attend to the cries and the clamor of the population to regain confidence, tranquility and social peace,” he said in a statement.

When he took office on Tuesday, Merino said he would respect the calendar for the next general elections, scheduled for April 11, 2021, and would leave power on July 28, 2021, the day when Vizcarra’s mandate was to end.

Vizcarra had broad popular support since succeeding Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, the former Wall Street banker who was forced to resign under threat of impeachment over corruption allegations in 2018.

Congress impeached and dismissed Vizcarra on Monday over allegations he took kickbacks from developers when he was governor of the Moquegua region in 2014, charges he denies.

AFP

Court Imposes Travel Ban On Ousted Peru President Amid Protests

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 09, 2020 the then Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra gives a farewell statement to the press before leaving the presidential Palace in Lima, following his impeachment by an overwhelming majority Congress vote.  AFP

 

A Peruvian judge on Friday banned ousted president Martin Vizcarra from leaving the country days after his dismissal by Congress as the nation’s political crisis spilt over into street clashes between protesters and police.

The announcement came after thousands of people took to the streets in the capital Lima and cities across Peru late Thursday to protest Vizcarra’s impeachment over corruption allegations.

At least 14 protesters were wounded in clashes with police, the National Human Rights Coordinator said.

Judge Maria Alvarez said she was imposing an 18-month travel ban on Vizcarra at the request of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, investigating allegations that the 57-year-old received more than $600,000 in kickbacks from developers while a regional governor.

“We have said that we will stay,” Vizcarra assured journalists Friday, once again rejecting the charges against him and questioning the legality of his removal.

“We have the truth and the support that backs us up,” he said.

Congress voted Monday to impeach him, while Congress Speaker Manuel Merino assumed office as Peru’s third president in four years.

Tense protests that began Tuesday continued into Friday, when hundreds of young people marched to the residence of Prime Minister Antero Flores-Araoz in Lima after the 78-year-old conservative challenged them to come to his house because he did not understand their demands.

With signs saying “Merino is not my president” and “Rats out of Congress!” they marched dozens of blocks to the house, where they were stopped by a police barricade.

In the capital Lima late Thursday, police used tear gas and pellets to disperse a group trying to reach the Congress building while protesters threw sticks and stones at the officers.

Demonstrators confront riot police during a protest against the new government of interim President Manuel Merino, following the impeachment and removal of former Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra, at the San Martin square in Lima on November 12, 2020.   AFP

 

Those wounded in the clashes included two young men hit “by firearms,” said Jorge Amoros, a doctor at Almenara hospital in Lima where both are hospitalized.

An AFP photographer was struck by pellets in his arm and leg during the march in Plaza San Martin.

 ‘Coup’ 

The South America office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called on authorities to guarantee the right of Peruvians to protest, saying it had received “disturbing information” about police behaviour.

The Ombudsman’s Office demanded security forces “immediately cease the use of tear gas and pellets against citizens who exercise their right to demonstrate.”

Vizcarra said protests must be allowed and called on the people to express themselves peacefully.

Demonstrators hold a protest against the new government of interim President Manuel Merino, following the impeachment and removal of former Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra, at the San Martin square in Lima on November 12, 2020.   AFP

 

“We also appeal to the national police to respect the demonstrators,” he said.

Interim president Merino urged calm.

“We are not going to put in place a brutal change,” he said, after installing his government with a conservative majority.

When he took office on Tuesday, Merino said he would respect the calendar for the next general elections, scheduled for April 11, 2021 and would leave power on July 28, 2021, the day when Vizcarra’s mandate was to end.

Clashes also took place on Tuesday, after Merino was sworn in.

Vizcarra had broad popular support since succeeding Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, the former Wall Street banker who was forced to resign under threat of impeachment over corruption allegations in 2018.

Some lawmakers had questioned the wisdom of removing Vizcarra in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and a crippling recession, with the financial markets nervous about whether the new government will maintain existing economic policies.

“In all the cities of Peru, people are rising up because they consider that this has been a coup,” protester Luis Bardales, 34, told AFP in Lima.

“We do not agree with parliament. It was not necessary” to dismiss Vizcarra, said protester Irene Aguilar, marching with her daughter.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit Peru hard, with GDP plunging more than 30 per cent in the second quarter.

The South American country has the world’s highest per capita death rate from the virus, which has caused nearly 35,000 deaths and more than 930,000 infections.

AFP

Peru’s President Vizcarra Ousted In Congress Impeachment Vote

Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra gives a farewell statement to the press before leaving the presidential Palace in Lima, following his impeachment by an overwhelming majority Congress vote on November 9, 2020, during a second political trial against him in less than two months,
Luka GONZALES / AFP

 

Peru’s Congress voted Monday to impeach and oust President Martin Vizcarra over allegations he took kickbacks from developers while serving as a regional governor in 2014.

After an impeachment trial that lasted nearly eight hours, the motion to remove the popular president was approved by 105 votes to 19, with four abstentions — far exceeding the 87 votes needed to impeach.

“The resolution declaring the vacancy of the presidency of the republic has been approved,” declared Congress leader Manuel Merino, who under the constitution will take over the presidential functions until the end of the current term in July 2021.

Vizcarra declared he was leaving office with his head “held high,” and ruled out taking legal action to resist Congress’s decision.

“I leave the government palace as I entered two years, eight months ago: with my head held high,” he said, surrounded by his ministers on the patio of the government house, adding he would leave immediately for his private home.

“I’m leaving with a clear conscience and with my duty fulfilled,” said Vizcarra, who enjoyed record levels of popularity in his 32 months in office.

People held marches and banged pots and pans in a show of support for him in Lima and other cities after his impeachment.

Vizcarra’s tumultuous presidency ended in a similar fashion to that of the man he replaced, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a former Wall Street banker who was forced to resign under threat of imminent impeachment over corruption allegations in 2018.

“Peru comes out weaker institutionally. Merino will be a weak president, that is the scenario in the context of general elections against the backdrop of a pandemic,” political analyst Augusto Alvarez Rodrich told AFP.

Peru will hold general and presidential elections in April 2021.

Merino, 59, will be sworn in at a special session of Congress on Tuesday, becoming Peru’s third president since 2016, reflecting the institutional fragility which has characterized the South American country since independence from Spain in 1821.

Constitutionally, succession falls to Merino because Vizcarra’s vice-president, Mercedes Araoz, resigned a year ago in the wake of a separate political crisis.

– Vehement defense –

Speaking in his defense at the start of the impeachment trial earlier Monday, the 57-year-old president rounded on his critics, vehemently denying that he had ever accepted bribes.

“I emphatically and categorically reject these accusations,” Vizcarra told lawmakers ahead of the vote over charges that he accepted $620,000 in bribes in 2014.

Several businessmen claim Vizcarra received kickbacks in exchange for public works contracts while he was governor of the southern department of Moquegua.

Vizcarra told lawmakers on Monday that the two contracts in question were assigned by a UN agency and not by his administration in Moquegua.

Prosecutors have been investigating the claims since 2018, but they only gained political traction because of press reports, a fact highlighted by Vizcarra in his defense.

Neither the public prosecutor’s office nor the court system had levelled charges against him, he said.

He argued that no fewer than 68 of the members of the 130-seat Congress seeking his impeachment themselves faced ongoing legal processes without being removed from office.

Last month, the Attorney General’s office announced it would investigate the allegations against Vizcarra when his term — and the immunity afforded by his office — ended in April, but Vizcarra’s opponents in Congress decided not to wait.

The impeachment removes a president who has won public support at a time when Peru is seeking to emerge from an acute economic crisis due in part to the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit the country hard.

The South American country has the world’s highest per capita death rate from the disease, which has seen nearly 35,000 deaths and more than 920,000 cases.

– Public backing –

Vizcarra has won popular backing over pledges to root out entrenched corruption in Peruvian politics since assuming power in 2018, though he has been at loggerheads with opponents in Congress, where he lacked a party of his own, as well as a solid majority.

Support for the president has been strong in opinion polls and on social networks, and pot-banging protesters took to the streets around the Congress building in the immediate aftermath of Monday night’s vote.

Police clashed with pro-Vizcarra demonstrators a few blocks from the building. Some waved signs accusing the Congress of a “coup.”

Vizcarra received similar support when he survived a previous impeachment vote in September.

Eight out of 10 Peruvians wanted him to continue until the end of his mandate in July 2021, according to an Ipsos poll.

Business leaders called on Congress to show unity in order to face the economic and health crisis, while influential Catholic leader Cardinal Pedro Barreto said removing the president now would be “catastrophic” for the country.

The previous vote centered on allegations that he directed aides to lie to investigators in a separate, relatively minor, case.

His opponents in Congress failed to garner enough votes to convict him of “moral incapacity.”

Peru has been politically unstable in recent years, with its four previous presidents implicated in Latin America’s sprawling Odebrecht corruption scandal.

Vizcarra succeeded Kuczynski in March 2018 after he resigned ahead of an impeachment vote brought after he became embroiled in the giant scandal.

-AFP

Peru Seeks 6,000 Volunteers For China Vaccine Trial

File photo: People await to receive medical attention, outside the emergency area at Alberto Sabogal Hospital in Lima, on May 27, 2020.. (Photo by ERNESTO BENAVIDES / AFP)

 

 

Peru on Wednesday began registering volunteers for clinical trials of a Chinese vaccine against the coronavirus.

Six thousand volunteers, who must be aged between 18 and 75 and not have contracted the virus, will be recruited by Cayetano Heredia and San Marcos universities via a dedicated website.

“The universities will select 3,000 volunteers each,” San Marcos rector Orestes Cachay told reporters.

The vaccine, being developed by Chinese company Sinopharm, will be administered by injection.

According to Peruvian researchers in charge of the clinical trials, two strains of the virus — the Wuhan strain and Beijing strain — and a placebo will be randomly given to volunteers.

“A technical team from China will arrive in the coming days, totalling 38 people, to implement the operational part of the project,” Cachay told TV channel N.

The trial is expected to last until December

President Martin Vizcarra announced last week the country would participate in clinical trials of vaccines being developed in China, Britain, the United States and Germany.

Peru, with a population of 33 million, has the third-highest number of deaths from the pandemic in Latin America, after Brazil and Mexico. Per capita, it has the region’s highest death rate, with 843.5 deaths per million inhabitants.

More than 28,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the country, which has registered more than 600,000 infections so far.

AFP

Peru Says Over 900 Girls, Women Feared Dead Since Pandemic Began

A patient infected with COVID-19 waits for assistance outside the regional Honorio Delgado Hospital, in the Andean city of Arequipa, south of Peru on July 23, 2020. – The government issued an emergency decree allowing the Ministry of Health to intervene to mitigate the crisis situation caused by the increase in COVID-19 infections and victims. Peru exceeded 17,000 deaths from the coronavirus on Wednesday, adding 188 new cases and adding 3,688 deaths between March and June that had not been officially counted by health authorities, the government reported. (Photo by Diego RAMOS / AFP)

 

 

 

A staggering 900-plus girls and women are missing and feared dead in Peru since COVID-19 confinement began, authorities said Monday.

The Andean nation home to 33 million people long has had a horrific domestic violence problem.

But COVID-19, which has compounded home confinement combined with job losses and a health crisis, has seen an already scary situation grow worse in just 3-1/2 months, according to Eliana Revollar, who leads the women’s rights office of the National Ombudsman’s office.

Seventy percent of that figure are minors, she added.

“During the quarantine, from March 16 to June 30, 915 women in Peru were reported missing,” and feared dead, said Revollar.

Before COVID-19, five women were reported missing in Peru every single day; since the lockdown, the number has surged to eight per day.

Revollar said Peru’s situation was grim because the lack of a national missing persons registry made it hard for authorities to keep track of the crisis.

Walter Gutierrez, the ombudsman, told RPS Radio: “We need to know what has happened to them.”

Revollar said she would push for the creation of a missing persons registry.

Women’s rights groups and NGOs however say that very often police refuse to investigate domestic violence, make fun of victims, or claim that the missing have left their homes willingly.

But that doesn’t address the fact that Peru has a problem with domestic violence and other violence against women, as well as human trafficking and forced prostitution.

In January, the case of a university student and activist for women’s rights and safety, Solsiret Rodriguez, was in the headlines here — but only when her body was found three years after she went missing.

Last year there were 166 killings of women in Peru; just a tenth of those were cases of a person first being reported missing. And there were just under 30,000 calls to report domestic violence, according to the Women’s Ministry.

And coronavirus hasn’t spared Peru: it has had more than 384,000 coronavirus cases and 18,229 deaths. It is the third-hardest hit country in Latin America behind Brazil and Mexico.

 

 

 

-AFP

Peru Says Over 900 Girls, Women Feared Dead Since Pandemic Began

File photo: Workers carry a bag with the body of a COVID-19 victim out of a refrigerated container before its cremation at the El Angel crematorium, in Lima on May 21, 2020 – Peru has become the second Latin American country after Brazil to reach 100,000 coronavirus cases, according to health ministry figures out Wednesday. (Photo by Ernesto BENAVIDES / AFP)

 

A staggering 900-plus girls and women are missing and feared dead in Peru since COVID-19 confinement began, authorities said Monday.

The Andean nation home to 33 million people long has had a horrific domestic violence problem.

But COVID-19, which has compounded home confinement combined with job losses and a health crisis, has seen an already scary situation grow worse in just 3-1/2 months, according to Eliana Revollar, who leads the women’s rights office of the National Ombudsman’s office.

Seventy percent of that figure are minors, she added.

“During the quarantine, from March 16 to June 30, 915 women in Peru were reported missing,” and feared dead, said Revollar.

Before COVID-19, five women were reported missing in Peru every single day; since the lockdown, the number has surged to eight per day.

Revollar said Peru’s situation was grim because the lack of a national missing persons registry made it hard for authorities to keep track of the crisis.

Walter Gutierrez, the ombudsman, told RPS Radio: “We need to know what has happened to them.”

Revollar said she would push for the creation of a missing persons registry.

Women’s rights groups and NGOs however say that very often police refuse to investigate domestic violence, make fun of victims, or claim that the missing have left their homes willingly.

But that doesn’t address the fact that Peru has a problem with domestic violence and other violence against women, as well as human trafficking and forced prostitution.

 

In this file photo taken on May 21, 2020 Worker move a coffin with the body of a COVID-19 victim out of a refrigerated container before its cremation at the El Angel crematorium, in Lima.Ernesto BENAVIDES / AFP

In January, the case of a university student and activist for women’s rights and safety, Solsiret Rodriguez, was in the headlines here — but only when her body was found three years after she went missing.

Last year there were 166 killings of women in Peru; just a tenth of those were cases of a person first being reported missing. And there were just under 30,000 calls to report domestic violence, according to the Women’s Ministry.

And coronavirus hasn’t spared Peru: it has had more than 384,000 coronavirus cases and 18,229 deaths. It is the third-hardest hit country in Latin America behind Brazil and Mexico.

AFP

Peru Surpasses 10,000 Coronavirus Deaths

File: Workers behind the crematorium chamber of the Campo Santo cemetery in the northern city of Piura, Peru, spray disinfectant on each other, after handling coffins of Covid-19 victims on April 15, 2020. Sebastian ENRIQUEZ / AFP.

 

Peru surpassed 10,000 deaths from the coronavirus on Thursday, the health ministry said, a day after the government began easing a national lockdown in a bid to revive the economy.

The number of deaths rose to 10,045, an increase of 185 in the last 24 hours, while the number of people infected rose to 292,004, the ministry said.

Peru is Latin America’s second worst-hit country after Brazil, where according to official figures more than 60,000 people have died from the disease.

READ ALSO: Switzerland Authorises Remdesivir For Wide Use Against COVID-19

Peru’s victims include 71 health workers and 153 police officers, according to officials.

Among the latest of Peru’s victims is the leader of the Awajun indigenous people, Santiago Manuin, who died Wednesday aged 63.

Manuin was recognized with Spain’s Queen Sofia Prize for his crusade in defense of the Amazon and indigenous rights.

During a visit by Pope Francis in 2018, when the pontiff met with Amazon indigenous leaders in Peru’s Madre de Dios region, Manuin presented the pope with a traditional feather headdress.

VIDEO: Watch as the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) say three out of five COVID-19 deaths in the country are 50 years and above.

Technicians Freed In Peru Over COVID-19 5G Scare

Doctors walk down the stairs after visiting a patient with COVID-19 in Comas, on the northern outskirts of Lima on June 11, 2020. – The Rapid Response Teams of the Ministry of Health are made up of Peruvian and Venezuelan doctors, who visit potential and recovering COVID-19 patients at their homes to take quick tests, make diagnoses and distribute medicines. ERNESTO BENAVIDES / AFP.

 

Villagers in rural Peru have freed eight technicians from broadband provider Gilat Peru who were held over fears they were installing 5G technology, which locals claim is responsible for the coronavirus, police said Saturday.

The eight-member maintenance crew had been held since Wednesday by villagers in Acobamba province, more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) southeast of the capital Lima,

“All of them have been released,” Leni Palacios of Huancavelica police told AFP, adding that the workers said they were in good shape.

Palacios said the workers’ release came after a meeting between locals and a commission made up of officials from the Ministry of Transport, the regional government and Gilat Peru.

Transport Ministry spokesman Jose Aguilar told RPP Radio that Peru has no 5G antennas, and that regardless, they are not linked to COVID-19.

Locals in Chopcca had told the repair crew they would not be allowed to leave until they took down existing antennas in Acobamba.

READ ALSO: Second Wave Fears As China Reports More New Infections

With 33 million people, Peru is the second-worst affected country in Latin America after Brazil, with more than 214,000 confirmed cases and over 6,000 deaths.

The province of Acobamba, which rises to nearly 4,000 meters above sea level, has one of the lowest infection rates in the country.

AFP

COVID-19 Cases In Peru Surpass 200,000

Workers carry a bag with the body of a COVID-19 victim out of a refrigerated container before its cremation at the El Angel crematorium, in Lima on May 21, 2020 – Peru has become the second Latin American country after Brazil to reach 100,000 coronavirus cases, according to health ministry figures out Wednesday. (Photo by Ernesto BENAVIDES / AFP)

 

Peru emerged as a global COVID-19 hotspot on Tuesday as the health ministry registered more than 200,000 cases, ranking the South American country as the eighth-highest in the world by number of infections.

The death toll rose to 5,738 and the total number of infections climbed to 203,736, an increase of more than 4,000 cases from the previous day.

The ministry said 167 people had died from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

The figures show Peru as second only to Brazil as Latin America’s worst-affected country by number of overall cases, and third after Brazil and Mexico in terms of deaths.

The economy, one of the region’s highest performing until February, has largely ground to a halt during a 12-week lockdown ordered by President Martin Vizcarra.

Textile unions have demanded the government begin opening up the industry so production and exports can resume.

READ ALSO: Elevated Extreme Poverty To Persist Through 2021 – World Bank

Peru’s GDP contracted by 3.4 percent in the first quarter of 2020.

The country’s first case was detected on March 6 and Vizcarra declared a compulsory national confinement 10 days later, shuttering borders and imposing nighttime curfews.

AFP