Peru coronavirus cases surpass 100,000 as demand sends drug prices soaring

FILE PHOTO: People wait outside Lima's central market as Peru extended a nationwide lockdown amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Lima, Peru May 8, 2020. REUTERS/Sebastian Castaneda

LIMA (Reuters) - Peru’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 104,000, the Ministry of Health reported on Wednesday, as the outbreak puts pressure on the demand for medicines, whose prices have soared in recent days.

There are 104,020 confirmed cases in the South American country, and the death toll rose to 3,024, up from 2,914 a day earlier, the ministry said.

The South American country is under a nationwide lockdown until May 24 in an effort to lessen the impact of the outbreak, which has nearly paralyzed the local economy and left millions without jobs.

The number of confirmed cases in Peru - the second highest in Latin America after Brazil - has doubled in two weeks, straining hospitals and leading to shortages of medicines used to treat patients for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Local police visited several pharmacies in Lima on Wednesday as the government seeks to crack down amid reports that the prices for basic medicines such as acetaminophen and the antibiotic amoxicillin have surged by as much as 10 times their regular prices.

People also complained of long lines outside pharmacies that were, in some cases, allegedly hoarding the medicines, authorities said.

President Martin Vizcarra announced on Tuesday that pharmacies would be required to add a list of additions to the stocks of generic drugs they must have in supply.

Peru recorded its first confirmed coronavirus case on March 6 and reached 1,000 infections just 25 days later. It surpassed 10,000 cases another 14 days later on April 14, according to a Reuters tally.

Reporting by Marco Aquino; additional reporting by Reuters TV; writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Sandra Maler and Jonathan Oatis