That some private clinics have found in the Covid-19 pandemic an excellent money-making opportunity should come as no surprise. An Acción Popular member of Congress for Piura, Franco Salinas, denounced last week that a clinic there was charging patients more than 40,000 soles (nearly US$12,000) upfront for treatment, something he described as “abusive”.

The congressman is quoted as saying “to hospitalise a patient for coronavirus in their intensive care units, they ask for a down payment of 40-50,000 soles (…) and those that cannot pay do not get attention”. The example of Piura appears far from atypical, with other clinics also finding a way to get rich quick.

Separately, the Comptroller-General’s office has revealed that private clinics charged for patients using 20,000 test kits sent free of charge by the National Health Institute (INS). They paid between 422 and 576 soles each. Veronika Mendoza, the left-wing candidate in the 2016 elections, has demanded that the government take action to prevent such abuse as well as the sale of oxygen cylinders, in short supply, at inflated prices.