Peru nightclub tragedy shines light on country’s coronavirus carnage

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Andean nation entered crisis in relative strength but its response has had severe human and economic cost

Gideon Long in Bogotá

On Saturday August 22, police raided a nightclub in Lima where young revellers were flouting lockdown restrictions. People rushed for the exit to avoid arrest and 13 were crushed to death or asphyxiated. Almost as shocking were the statistics the Peruvian interior ministry released the next day: of the 13 dead, 11 had Covid-19. Of the 23 people the police arrested, 15 tested positive.

The tragedy at the Thomas Restobar gives an idea of the coronavirus pandemic in Peru. A country of 30m people, it has recorded more than 600,000 cases — the sixth-highest total in the world — and more than 27,000 deaths, the highest number per capita in Latin America.

Despite a long, strict lockdown, there is no sign the virus is peaking. Financial Times data shows Peru is averaging 8,300 new cases a day, more per capita than the US and Brazil, and more than at any time since the pandemic began.