Covid in Peru: Update from Amazon Promise

by Patty Webster; published 9/16/23

Amazon Promise is a non-profit organization that provides medical and dental care to remote populations living in the upper Amazon basin of northeastern Peru. With the virus spread widely through the region, this organization has taken on providing basic supplies to the poor populations of the region. Here is an update from the head of the organization.

A Deadly Outbreak

Two health workers with mother and child
Source: Amazon Promise

Peru’s coronavirus fatality rate is now the highest in the world, surpassing Belgium and exceeding even Brazil (7th) and the U.S. (8th). Since the country’s lockdown, Peru (pop. 33 million) has recorded over 150 deaths nearly every day for six months, with 86.67 deaths per 100,000 people, a Reuters tally shows, just ahead of Belgium. The country’s case and death rate stands at over 734,000 (official) cases and 30,812 deaths. There were 81,823 new cases reported between August 31th thru September 13th. These elevated numbers are actually lower than new cases and deaths reported August 15th thru August 30th, finally showing the beginnings of a decline in numbers for Peru.

In Iquitos, Loreto Province, where the Amazon Promise office is located, the Regional Health Ministry estimates that over 4000 people have died from COVID-19. Fortunately, cases have finally taken a nosedive in Iquitos due to the fact that a large proportion of the population has already had the virus.

Boots on the Ground

Three children in a hammock
Source: Amazon Promise

Amazon Promise has had boots on the ground running since March 15th, when the country shut down. Prior to this we were already distributing personal protective equipment (PPE) directly to healthcare workers. Our massive food aid distribution to thousands of people in need began in early April.

Our current efforts to help people in need during the COVID-19 pandemic continue in Iquitos and the surrounding areas. While new cases are considerably lower, and most markets and stores are now open, there is still a 10pm curfew and ban on large gatherings. A large portion of society continues to suffer from a lack of income to buy food and pay for medical care. Our COVID-19 relief team was recently out visiting impoverished families of single mothers and the elderly, distributing funds that will enable them to purchase food and other supplies they need.

You can view photos from the relief team’s visits here.

We are also now providing care to those with post-virus issues. Since there is a high percentage of unemployment we hope to begin food distribution once again in the near future.

More Than Coronavirus

Mother and children
Source: Amazon Promise

Another aspect of the pandemic is that those with non-related COVID-19 health issues are going unattended and many people are calling or knocking daily on our clinic door.

Over 22 Iquitos physicians, including several specialists, and countless other healthcare workers have died from COVID-19. Most healthcare workers became ill with it, a shocking and sad reality. Needless to say, there is a physician shortage, and people who are suffering with non-emergency issues are not being seen and their conditions are getting worse. We are personally accompanying these people, every day of the week, to ensure they receive care whether at the hospital or a more costly private physician office. Many are arriving from the jungle in desperate need, and so we must also provide funds for food, transportation and lodging.

Countrywide Info

A home in Belen, Peru
Source: Amazon Promise

In Lima, there is a 20 to 30% increase in the number of children hospitalized in the ICU. Covid-19 is leading to pediatric inflammatory multi-symptom syndrome, which affects their hearts. In Cusco, 30% of hospitalized patients are due to poisoning from self-medication.

Peru will start testing coronavirus vaccines from China’s Sinopharm and US drugmaker Johnson & Johnson this month, researchers said, which should help the country gain faster access to inoculations once the vaccines are approved. Six thousand volunteers have been recruited.

This is a time for compassion and kindness. Contributions can be made here.

Related Links

About the Author

Patty Webster is the President and founder of Amazon Promise. She can be reached by email at

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