People in Peru, the country with the highest death rate from Covid-19, are continuing to use facemasks, despite new rules being introduced to say their use is no longer mandatory.
The use of masks in open spaces is no longer mandatory as of this Sunday in regions of Peru where 80 percent of the population has been vaccinated with three doses against Covid-19.
“From May 1, the use of the mask in open spaces will be optional in regions that have 80 percent of the population vaccinated against Covid-19,” confirmed a statement from Peru's Health Ministry.
But on the streets of downtown Lima and the tourist district of Miraflores, most passersby wore masks a day after the obligation to wear them in open spaces ended.
The same thing happened in other areas of the capital of 10 million inhabitants and in the regions of Ica (south) and Ánchash (north), where the mask was also no longer mandatory, according to local media.
"I have decided not to wear a mask on the street, but in closed spaces I use it because I am still afraid of getting infected," Johnny Samaniego, a 52-year-old man from Lima, told AFP.
'Must not discriminate'
"Those who feel comfortable [with the mask] can continue to use it but they have to respect those other people who do not use them, but we must not discriminate on one side or the other," public health expert Omar Neyra told Channel N television this week.
The use of face masks is still mandatory to enter closed establishments, such as banks or stores, where a vaccination card against Covid-19 must also be presented.
So far, more than 80 percent of the Peruvian population over 12 years of age has been vaccinated with two doses (from a population of almost 26 million people), and 74.1 percent of the so-called "target population" has received a third booster dose, according to official data.
The pandemic hit the Andean country hard with 6,542 deaths per million inhabitants recorded, according to Johns Hopkins University, a reference center.
With 33 million inhabitants, Peru has accumulated more than 3.5 million cases of coronavirus and more than 212,000 deaths.
After a peak of almost 50,000 infections per day on average in the third week of January, infections gradually dropped to 709 per day on average, last week, according to official data.
Thanks to the decrease in infections, for the first time in two years in Peruvian hospitals there are less than a thousand patients with Covid-19.
In Peruvian hospitals there are now 999 patients with Covid-19, according to official data, after a record 15,547 patients in March 2021.