As concerning as the spread of COVID-19 is to people in Saskatchewan, it pales in comparison to those living in one of the world’s hardest hit areas of the pandemic.
Marlies Weiss, formerly of Regina, is a sixth year medical student in Lima, Peru.
People in Peru have been hit hard by the spread of COVID-19 including the country’s medical system.
“Right now we’re at a point where both public and private systems are almost collapsed. There are very few hospital beds available and a smaller amount of ICU beds available. So the situation is quite critical,” says Weiss who will soon complete her medical studies at Universidad Peruana Cayetana Heredia, a top medical University in Peru.
Weiss graduated from the University of Regina earning degrees in Anthropology and Economics. She moved to Peru where she has family.
There are nearly 600,000 cases of reported COVID-19 cases in Peru, the sixth highest in the world. Nearly 28,000 people have died from COVID-19 related causes.
From around mid-March, Peru imposed amongst the strictest measures in South America to limit the spread of the virus. The plan appeared to be succeeding at first but as the country inevitably eased the restrictions, the covid numbers rose significantly.
“It’s difficult. There are social and economic issues that existed before the pandemic,” says Weiss. “A lot of people have to live the day to day. So while the government tries to keep everyone in their houses, a lot of people can’t afford to stay in their houses because they have to eat. And a lot of people also don’t have refrigerators. Only about 20 per cent of our population has refrigerators so they can’t stock up either. So while the government tried to keep these strict measures in force it’s difficult for a large part of the population to actually follow them.”
It appears few people in Peru have been spared of the virus either directly or indirectly. That includes Weiss who lost two of her teachers to the virus.
“It’s very unfortunate what’s happening in the country. The amount of people who are dying,” she says.
Weiss maintains strong connections with her Regina roots where her father and brother still live.
“Regina is a place that is in my heart and always will be. I’m glad that the numbers are low,” she says.