Patricia García, Peru's former Minister of Health and an Affiliate Professor of Global Health at the University of Washington, spoke to Publimetro in her home country of Peru about the country's response to the coronavirus pandemic. García received a Masters of Public Health at UW and is also a professor at the School of Public Health at Cayetano Heredia University in Lima, Peru. Her areas of expertise include epidemiology, infectious diseases, and implementation science.
The following interview has been translated from Spanish.
Q: What is the balance of actions taken by the government in the face of this crisis?
A: Unlike other countries, Peru took some of the earliest actions. On the one hand, there are the state regulations and, on the other, there is the responsibility of citizens. There are people who panic and there are people who don't care. We need a middle ground where both people and companies assume their responsibilities.
Q: Is it okay to order a national quarantine situation?
A: We are not in the situation of countries like Italy or Spain, still. In situations like this, the state first sets more flexible actions before anything strict. But if they are not respected, there is a need for more drastic actions. That's when there would be a need for national quarantine. There will be more infections of all types. It has been calculated that between 40 and 70% of the world population is going to be affected at the end of year. What we have to achieve is a decrease in these infections over time. That implies increasing the physical distancing and protecting the most vulnerable, which are mostly the elderly. The country cannot stop either. Some basic activities related to the productive sector must continue. The results of the changes we make today will be seen in the next 14 days, we will not see them tomorrow.