Peru on Monday almost tripled its official COVID-19 death toll to 180,764, following a government review, making it the country with the worst death rate per capita, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Peru has been among the hardest hit Latin America countries during the COVID-19 pandemic, with its hospitals overcrowded with patients and demand for oxygen outstripping availability. Experts had long warned that the true death toll was being undercounted in official statistics.
The government said it will now update its death count, which stood at 69,342 as of Sunday, in part because of a lack of testing that made it difficult to confirm whether a person had died due to the virus or some other cause.
According to Johns Hopkins data, Hungary had the worst number of per capita COVID-19 deaths at about 300 per 100,000 people. With its updated death toll, Peru now stands at more than 500 COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people.
“We think it is our duty to make public this updated information,” said Peru Prime Minister Violeta Bermudez during a news conference announcing the result of the review.
In Latin America, Brazil has the highest total death toll with more than 450,000 lives lost due to the pandemic. Based on population, however, Peru’s per capita death toll now more than doubles that of Brazil, according to the data.
Peru’s updated numbers are in line with so-called excess death figures, which researchers have used in Peru and other countries to measure possible undercounting during the pandemic.
Excess deaths measures the total number of deaths over a period of time and compares it with the same period pre-pandemic.