On 26 March, President Martín Vizcarra extended the lockdown in Peru, first announced on 15 March, until 12 April, Easter Sunday. Under these rules a night-time curfew is enforced, and one member of each family is allowed out to buy food, medicines or to go to a bank for money.
As of the time of going to press, the total number of cases identified with the virus totalled 635. This is a substantial increase (50) on the previous day. But the figure was based on the tests carried out four or five days previously. The number of people infected now is probably nearer 1,000. There have so far been eleven deaths from the virus.
Of the 635 cases identified, 494 were in Lima. Lima was followed in terms of numbers by Loreto (23) Piura (20), Callao (17), Arequipa (15), Lambayeque (13) and Junín (12).
Normal life has been severely altered with schools and universities closed, sporting events suspended, entertainment on hold and church services banned. A real problem arises because 70% of the working population are in the informal sector of the economy. The government may have to relax the rules about street selling; no work, no money.
The state is giving the poorest families a lump sum equivalent to US$100. But not all have (or will) receive this. Administering a programme of this sort is fraught with difficulties, not least identifying eligible recipients. Some new measures have been passed to distribute funding through regional administrations as well as through provincial and district municipalities.
On 26 March, the Congress also gave authorisation to the executive to use special powers to legislate on matters to do with responding to COVID-19. The authorisation will last for 45 days. The government had asked for these special powers to last 60 days.