A doctor’s view on the COVID-19 outbreak in Peru

Published On March 30, 2020 | By Parmisse Menendez | News
Peru’s medical experts are worried about not being capable to attend to all people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Reuters/Sebastian Castaned)
Parmisse Menendez

Dr. Pamela Maceda, a geriatrician from Hospital Geriátrico San José PNP in Peru, is terrified there are not enough doctors or health professionals to attend the patients with COVID-19.

“Even though the government has bought supplies to face COVID-19, we know that is not going to be enough,” Maceda said.

Maceda said Peru introduced different measures to ensure the well-being of the citizens after the first person with COVID-19 was diagnosed on March 5.

Health professionals were provided with disposable gloves, masks, aprons and glasses while some non-essential healthcare workers were sent home to avoid the disease to spread, Maceda said.

The biggest fear among medical professionals is contact with the virus. They are taking extra measures to avoid spreading the virus in the streets or in their houses, the doctor said.

“I shower, I put on my scrubs at home and once in the hospital, I put on my white scrub and the biosecurity clothes which are a disposable apron, gloves, glasses and mask,” she said.

“After I finish with my patients, I throw everything (out) and shower again. Once at home, I leave my shoes at the door and my scrub and shower again.”

This is how doctors and health professionals look like when attending patients. (Pamela Maceda)

Maceda said she believes there are many shortcomings in the state health service that are not being covered by the government and this scares the health workers.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), older people and those with pre-existing conditions are at higher risk in developing a serious illness, and because of that, they should not be with people known to have COVID-19.

Miryam Molina, 64, lives alone in Lima and is scared to step outside her house as she knows her age group is vulnerable, and seeks help from her neighbours.

“I consider that the measures taken by the government were on time and necessary but there are things to evaluate and improve,” Molina said.

Doctors like Maceda are worried because the people are not strictly adhering to the steps outlined by WHO.

The disease is spreading at a fast pace in Peru as some people are not taking cleaning measures or washing their hands properly, Maceda said.

“The virus is spreading because people are not fulfilling the social distance, there are still people in the streets because they do not understand the magnitude of the disease and they think they are going to avoid COVID-19,” the doctor said.

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