Peru's Health Min: Borders will remain closed to avoid increase in COVID-19 contagion

Photo: ANDINA/Ministry of Health of Peru

LIMA, Jan 8, 2021: Health Minister Pilar Mazzetti on Friday reported that Peruvian borders will be kept closed to prevent a further increase in COVID-19 contagion. Thus, bilateral agreements were adopted with the health authorities of neighboring countries. "By mutual agreement, the borders will be kept closed. We have reached bilateral agreements. Even before the new COVID-19 variant appeared in Chile, we were in talks with the health authorities of that neighboring country to reopen the border," Dr. Mazzetti expressed.

"However, as soon as the new variant emerged, we all said that it was not possible, and so the border remained closed," she added. The high-ranking official commented that before making this decision there was an entire organization working on the border area, both on the Peruvian region of Tacna and on the Chilean region of Arica to reopen the border. "Yet, once the release came out about the appearance of the COVID-19 variant in Chile, it was immediately decided to keep the southern border closed," she recalled.

Difficulties in border control

Regarding the illegal entry of people through certain points of the land borders, the Health minister said it is impossible to guard so many kilometers of such borders with five neighboring countries. "A tremendous effort is made, for example, on the northern border. One part can be monitored very well, but there is another one that cannot necessarily be monitored with such capacity by both countries (Peru and Ecuador)," she acknowledged.

The Cabinet member also argued that there is always a human component to epidemics and pandemics, so social behavior is the main problem. "Any measure is useless if, clandestinely by taking advantage of the geographical difficulties, people leave their countries without taking the proper precautions. That is something that no country can control," she emphasized. Remarks were made in a press conference to announce that the first case of the COVID-19 variant initially found in the United Kingdom has been registered in Peru.

Peru’s Interim President Merino Resigns After Massive Protests

LIMA, Dec 17, 2020: Peru’s interim president, Manuel Merino, has resigned less than a week into his new administration, after a night of protests calling for his removal and a subsequent police crackdown left at least two dead and dozens wounded. “I want to let the whole country know that I’m resigning,” Merino said in a televised address on Sunday. He added the move was “irrevocable” and called for “peace and unity”. At least two people were dead and 27 people wounded in clashes between police and protesters as thousands of Peruvians took to the streets to demonstrate against the dismissal of President Martin Vizcarra, police and rights groups said.

The unrest during the past four nights, and other more peaceful protests in the capital Lima and other cities, are piling pressure on a fragmented Congress and the new government of President Manuel Merino. On Thursday night, police used tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters, some of whom threw rocks at police and destroyed store windows and cash machines. Vizcarra, a politically unaffiliated centrist who is popular with voters, was ousted on Monday in an impeachment trial over allegations he received bribes – accusations he denies.

Merino, a member of the center-right Popular Action party who had been the head of Congress, swore in his new cabinet on Thursday and called for calm. Peru’s National Human Rights Co-ordinator said 11 people wounded on Thursday, including some journalists. A Lima hospital said at least two people had been injured by rubber bullets. Police put the number at 27, including injured officers.

Some carried banners comparing Merino to the coronavirus pandemic and saying he did not represent them. “They treat us poorly. We’ve only come to protest against injustice,” Vega said. “We are all feeling pain. So, I’m saying to everyone let’s not give up.” Interior Minister Gaston Rodriguez denied reports the police had used lethal weapons and said they had only fired tear gas and rubber bullets when a protest had got out of hand