LIMA, Feb 13 (Reuters) – Peru’s interim president Francisco Sagasti said on Saturday that the Chilean government offered to supply “medicinal oxygen” at a time when the country registers a significant deficit of this key input for COVID-sufferers. 19.
Sagasti affirmed that the Chilean offer is to make available some 40 tons per week, initially, of medicinal oxygen to the Antofagasta region, so that from there it can be transported to Peru, which suffers a second wave of the coronavirus.
“We have been in contact with the Chilean government that has generously offered to bring and give us oxygen. But there is another problem, they can bring oxygen only to Antofagasta,” said President Sagasti in an interview with local radio station RPP.
The president said that for this the Government is talking with private and public transporters of the Andean country that have special tanks to receive oxygen in Antofagasta, and can then bring them to the south of Peru.
“The oxygen demand has grown exponentially. We estimated that it was going to double, but as it has happened not only in Peru but in the world, the demand has tripled. For that additional extra, we were not prepared,” said Sagasti.
The now former Minister of Health of Peru, Pilar Mazzeti, said a few days ago that the demand for medicinal oxygen grew very strong due to the rapid increase in infections, generating a deficit of about 110 tons per day of this product, key for the treatment of affected by COVID-19.
From Santiago, the Minister of Health of Chile, Enrique Paris, confirmed the offer and said that the Government of his country has contacted a company with a distribution base in Antofagasta and “oxygen will be taken from next week.”
Peru declared national oxygen a “strategic resource” last year due to the shortage of this product, whose prices have risen two to four times and which is produced only by a few private and public companies in the country.
A 10-cubic-meter oxygen tank can cost at least the equivalent of $ 350, according to relatives who stand in long lines day and night to purchase the coveted product.
President Sagasti said that his government is working on approving measures to make it easier for more private companies to produce medicinal oxygen.
The number of deaths from COVID, the majority due to lack of oxygen, rose by 210 on Friday, levels close to the average for August when the country recorded the highest number of deaths per day; to total 43,255 victims of the pandemic.
The mortality rate from the disease in Peru with respect to its population of 33 million inhabitants is one of the highest in the world. Meanwhile, infections increased by 8,439 in one day, to add 1,220,748 cases, according to government data.
(Report by Marco Aquino, with the contribution of Fabian Cambero in Santiago de Chile)