Peru delayed the start of its school year, imposed quarantines on travelers and limited the size of public gatherings in some of the most drastic measures yet taken by a Latin American nation to try to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.
The start of classes following summer holidays will be pushed back by two weeks to March 30 after the number of confirmed infections rose to 13 from zero in less than a week, President Martin Vizcarra said at a news conference in Lima. The government confirmed the first case on March 6.
Travelers arriving from France, Italy, Spain and China will be quarantined for two weeks, as part of the effort to contain the virus, Vizcarra said. The government will spend 165 million soles ($47 million) to supply schools with hygiene kits, and transfer 100 million soles to the health ministry for prevention and control measures, he said.
“These measures are designed to prevent a huge jump in the number of cases,” Vizcarra said. “We’re confident the results are going to be effective.”
Speaking alongside Vizcarra, Finance Minister Maria Antonieta Alva said Peru has solid fundamentals and “fiscal space” which will allow it to “weather the storm”, though the government hasn’t yet announced any stimulus measures.
All the major countries in the region except Venezuela have confirmed infections, led by Brazil which has more than 30. On Wednesday, Colombia ordered travelers from China, Italy, Spain and France to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
In Ecuador, a woman traveling from Spain is believed to have infected 15 people, all of whom are receiving treatment. According to the World Health Organization, the number is believed to be the highest for virus transmissions by one infected person yet recorded during the outbreak.