Peru almost triples virus death toll

·1-min read

Peru has revised its official COVID-19 death toll to 180,764 - almost triple the previous official figure of 69,342 - following a government review that shows the severity of the outbreak in the Andean country.

Peru has been one of the most battered countries in Latin America by the pandemic, which has overcrowded its hospitals and outstripped the availability of oxygen tanks.

Experts had long warned that the true death toll was being undercounted in official statistics.

"We think it is our duty to make public this updated information," Prime Minister Violeta Bermudez said in a press conference announcing the result of the review.

"What is being said is that a significant number of deaths were not classified as caused by COVID-19," Health Minister Oscar Ugarte said, adding that the criteria for assigning the new coronavirus as a cause of death were changed.

Ugarte said that previously only those who "had a positive diagnostic test" were considered to have died from the virus but other criteria have since been incorporated.

Peru's updated numbers are in line with so-called excess deaths figures, which researchers have used in Peru and other countries to measure possible undercounting.

Excess deaths measure the total number of deaths in a period of time and compares it with the same period pre-pandemic.

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