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Peruvian Armed Forces Join the Fight Against Coronavirus

Peruvian Armed Forces Join the Fight Against Coronavirus

By Marcos Ommati / Diálogo
March 30, 2020

Peru declared a state of emergency on March 15. President Martín Vizcarra Cornejo announced the strategy to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the country. The state of emergency has been extended to April 12 with all Peruvian borders to remain closed.

The Armed Forces were immediately called to help in the process. More than 60,000 service members deployed throughout the country to ensure that the population complies with the preventive measures to counter the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following Vizcarra’s announcement, Peruvian Army General César Astudillo, head of the Peruvian Armed Forces Joint Command, delivered a speech urging people to adhere to the quarantine and respect the curfew, scheduled from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., until April 1.

“The Armed Forces are ensuring that our people comply with this health emergency and enforcing the law against those who fail to comply; we have borders, airports, and bus terminals under control,” said Gen. Astudillo.

Peruvian Army soldiers control traffic in Lima on March 16, 2020, in an attempt to persuade the population to stay home, one day after President Martín Vizcarra announced a state of emergency. (Cris Bouroncle / AFP)

Military hospitals
Army General Orlando Celiz Kuong, commander of the Peruvian Army, said that as part of the National Health System, the Army is aligned with the national policy to fight against the coronavirus. He said that they implemented a diagnosis center at the Central Military Hospital, with 16 beds for admitted patients and four for those in isolation.

With regard to security measures for military personnel, he said that they have begun distributing 35,000 sets of protective gear at the national level for all soldiers, and that they have acquired safety equipment for health personnel as well.

Meanwhile, Peruvian Minister of Defense Walter Roger Martos Ruiz said that the Navy set up a field hospital in the Callao region with more than 200 beds for those who test positive for the coronavirus.

The minister also said that personnel from the Third Naval Zone were conducting pedestrian and vehicle checks to support the Peruvian National Police in the city of Arequipa. Navy elements deployed in different streets of the area are also raising community awareness among passersby and public transport users, telling them to stay home as a way to avoid coronavirus spread and infection.

The Peruvian military is also helping to refurbish seven towers at the Pan American Villa into hospital facilities exclusively to assist COVID-19 patients. This location in Villa El Salvador, in the capital city of Lima, will be able to care for 3,000 patients.

A total of 170 service members from the Army, Navy, and Air Force deployed to fit out the place, such as cleaning all the areas of the residential complex’s towers, setting up beds and mattresses, and designating guards in each of the dormitories.

The government passed an emergency decree approving the use of the Pan American Villa — a complex built to house the athletes who took part in the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima — as a temporary hospital.

“We will have 3,000 beds available at the Pan American Villa, which is more than double the amount in Rebagliati Hospital. We are authorized to set up 900 beds in the first two towers. The Armed Forces are providing their full support to transport equipment, beds, and mattresses,” Vizcarra said.