The COVID-19 situation in Peru is rapidly deteriorating, as the country experiences a surge in weekly infections despite low testing rates. Local news outlets have confirmed this alarming trend, emphasizing the urgent need for increased testing nationwide. Peru’s Health Minister, César Vásquez, has appealed for calm among citizens and stressed the importance of getting vaccinated against the disease. Vásquez reassured the public that while cases are on the rise, there has not been a significant increase in hospitalizations, intensive care admissions, or deaths. He also stated that the available bivalent vaccine in Peru is effective against new virus lineages and can prevent severe complications. To date, over three million doses of the vaccine have been administered, with a particular focus on individuals aged 60 and older. As the government takes steps to address the escalating situation, the President of the Council of Ministers, Alberto Otárola Peñaranda, has announced that year-end parties and social gatherings will not be banned.
In addition to the surge in COVID-19 cases, Peru has recently identified the first 12 cases of a new COVID-19 variant known as JN.1. This variant is a descendant of the highly mutated BA.2.86 lineage and was detected through genomic surveillance of respiratory samples collected in November. The affected individuals, ranging in age from 23 to 58, are currently in stable condition and receiving outpatient management. The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated the JN.1 strain as a separate variant of interest, distinct from its parent lineage.
Hospitals across Peru are witnessing a significant increase in COVID-19 admissions, causing concern among doctors regarding the potential impact of the JN.1 variant on older adults and young children. Many individuals in these age groups are experiencing severe disease and requiring hospitalization. The situation in Peru is rapidly evolving, and further updates will be provided to ensure the public remains informed about the ongoing developments.