La policía de Perú disuelve una supuesta estafa que cobra enormes sumas de dinero por las camas de la UCI Covid

La policía peruana desmanteló una supuesta red criminal que había cobrado tanto $21,000 por cama para pacientes gravemente enfermos de Covid-19 en un hospital estatal, aggravating care in a country hit by one of the world’s deadliest outbreaks of the virus.

Authorities arrested nine people in an early morning raid on Wednesday, including the administrators of Lima’s Guillermo Almenara Irigoyen public hospital, according to prosecutor Reynaldo Abia.

The scam was uncovered after police received a complaint from the brother of a man suffering from Covid-19 who had been asked for 82,000 soles ($20,783) to obtain an intensive care (ICU) bed and treatment at the hospital, said Abia.

The health minister, Óscar Ugarte, told reporters the scam warranted immediate repercussions. “This is totally reprehensible," él dijo. “We cannot be negotiating with people’s lives.”

Corruption scandals around virus care have already rattled the highest levels of power in Peru. Outrage over prior allegations that some top officials had been granted preferential “VIP” vaccinations prompted the country’s health and foreign ministers to resign earlier this year.

The hospital involved in the more recent scandal, administered by the EsSalud social security system, provides free care. Patients must endure a long waiting list for the 80 ICU beds the hospital offers.

During the peak of the pandemic, many patients paid large sums of money to private clinics as the public system neared collapse.

The number of available ICU beds has since soared to nearly 3,000 nationwide, compared with just hundreds available in March last year, but beds are still in high demand in the Andean nation. Peru in late May tripled its official death count from the virus and leads the world in deaths per 100,000 inhabitants from the disease.

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