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Radio Diospi Suyana

Fairly good protection from Covid-19 in the mountains

Fascinating observations made across the world

In every regards Peru is shaken by the pandemic.  As of yesterday 72,000 cases were recorded and that number increases daily by up to 4,000 newly infected persons.  Public life is paralysed, the economy is crippled and schools are closed.  On the highways one sees transportation- and police vehicles, but hardly any private cars.  In Curahuasi people are queuing (sitting and standing) in front of the state bank “Banco de la Nación” wanting to withdraw cash (see above picture taken by Susi Rottler). Financially many families are on their last legs.

Every second resident of the metropolis Iquitos on the Amazon River who is tested positively has to be admitted to hospital due to the severity of the virus’ course.  A few days ago two doctors died because the state hospital did not have an adequate supply of oxygen.  No one believes the statistics that so far only 2,000 people have died from corona.  Often infected persons are not admitted to Lima’s clinics and are sent home, often to die quietly and without much further ado.

But there is good news for the mountainous regions: worldwide tests have shown that an altitude of more than 2,500m is a fairly good protection against Covid-19.  A recent comparative study compiled the figures from Tibet, Bolivia and Ecuador. The reasons for this remarkable phenomenon are manifold.

At high altitude the air is dryer and is therefore not a good medium for viral transmission.  The high UV irradiation renders the virus harmless within a short time.  And there is one further interesting factor: people living in the mountains have less ACE2-receptors that are responsible for absorbing the virus in the cells: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7175867/

Yawning emptiness characterises most hospitals that are situated in higher places, e.g. Curahuasi. Apurímac reports 95 identified corona cases, none of which are currently being treated in a hospital.

At the Hospital Diospi Suyana we hope that we can resume to treating patients normally soon.  Since police prevent private travel, thousands of patients are made to stay at home even though their many illnesses require urgent intervention.

Abancay, capital of Apurimac State, is located at an altitude of 2,300m, Curahuasi at 2,600m.