170 police officers die of coronavirus in Peru: minister

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Relatives carry the coffin of a suspected COVID-19 victim at the Nueva Esperanza cemetery, one of the largest in Latin America, in the southern outskirts of Lima -- Peru has lost at least 170 police officers to the disease

At least 170 police officers in Peru have died after contracting the coronavirus while enforcing the South American nation's pandemic lockdown, the interior minister said Thursday.

Almost 10,000 officers have been infected with the disease as they enforced social distancing measures during Peru's 12 weeks of stay-at-home orders.

"We have 9,900 infected personnel and 170 deceased personnel. That is the figure that we currently have despite the efforts being made," Interior Minister General Gaston Rodriguez told reporters.

A further 4,000 police personnel, deemed vulnerable for reasons of age and health, were complying with mandatory quarantine, he said.

Among those infected, at least 1,000 were asymptomatic, police said.

According to the interior ministry, some 80,000 police officers are providing security in the country to enforce the country's mandatory confinement measures.

Peru is the second worst-hit country in Latin America after Brazil, with more than 208,000 cases and 6,000 deaths.

Most of the police cases occurred in the capital Lima, which is home to more than half the country's infections.

The vast majority of police infections occurred when officers patrolled markets and streets to ensure people were observing social distancing measures to avoid spreading the virus.

Relatives carry the coffin of a suspected COVID-19 victim at the Nueva Esperanza cemetery, one of the largest in Latin America, in the southern outskirts of Lima -- Peru has lost at least 170 police officers to the disease

Police officers stand guard at the Caqueta market in the north of Lima -- it is believed many of those with coronavirus were infected during such patrols