Peru raises COVID-19 alert, tightens curbs amid Omicron wave

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LIMA, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Peru, which has one of the world's highest COVID-19 mortality rates per number of inhabitants, raised its pandemic alert level in various cities and tightened some restrictions due to a third wave of infections caused by the spread of the Omicron variant.

Health Minister Hernando Cevallos said that some 24 provinces, including Lima, went from "moderate" to "high" alert as the average number of daily cases has increased 25% from the previous week.

Among the restrictions were an extended curfew of 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., three hours longer than the previous curfew, and tightened capacity limits in shopping centers, banks and restaurants, Cevallos said.

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The heightened restrictions come amid signs that countries across the Latin America are entering another wave of COVID-19 infections, despite South America being the world's most-vaccinated region.

"We're at a level of infections that's rising more and more quickly," Cevallos said in a press conference. The minister said that in Lima, where close to a third of the country lives, "Omicron is the prominent (variant)," causing half of all new cases.

Cevallos also said that despite the jump in infections, the number of deaths in the country has only increased moderately, and that the majority of the deaths were among the unvaccinated.

Around 80% of Peru's eligible population has received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. As of Tuesday, according to the health ministry's most recent update, the country has recorded a total number of 2.3 million COVID-19 infections and 202,904 deaths.

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Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Kylie Madry; Editing by Javier Leira and Marguerita Choy

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