These are challenging times. Challenging for Vikki because she hardly works at the moment and is at home with the children practically all the time. Schools are still closed so Vikki does the schoolwork with Leah and Olivia. School year in Peru end just before Christmas and, after a long holiday, starts again in March. The girls had just had 1 week of school when the schools were closed. All in all, Leah and Olivia have been at home for almost 5 months now, a long time. Thankfully they are doing well. Olivia receives instructions for all kinds of crafts and Leah has started math and reading! Simeon is not doing nothing either and is getting more and more talkative. He is also very curious which is not always the best. Friday morning Vikki phoned me with Simeon screaming in the back ground. Something had bitten him in his hand and his hand was swelling up and his eyes had become red. Thankfully I could jump into a car together with a Diospi Suyana guard to pick Vikki and Simeon up. About 10 minutes later we were in the room of Martina, the co-founder of Diospi Suyana and Pediatrician. Thankfully Simeon had calmed down as had the reaction to the bite. We received some anti allergy medication and now he is doing fine again. Hopefully he will be a bit more careful with all the creeps and crawls around here.

Challenging times also at the hospital. We have been fully occupied with preparing for the arrival of corona patients. This involved many negotiations with the regional government that culminated in the signing of an agreement. Also, I drove to Lima once more with our Director for further preparations. The drive to Lima turned out a bit different than expected due to a road block because of a major landslide. This meant we had to take another, longer route. A flat tire delayed us a little bit more and after a drive of over 20 hours we safely arrived in Lima. Meanwhile, not many patients can make their way to the Hospital due to the lockdown measures. Normally we see about 250 patients per day, at the moment that number is around 20. Few patients also means little work for our personnel. It has been a big head ache the last weeks to organise our personnel in such a way that we were not hugely overstaffed whilst not having to fire people. Hopefully we can keep that up until more patients can come to the hospital again.

Because of the lockdown patients can only travel in case of an emergency. Now that the focus is completely on the corona virus, patients that suffer from other diseases are even worse off than before the crisis. We have received multiple emergencies that had been sent away at other health establisments because, they tested negative on the corona virus. For example we received an elderly lady with a lung tumor and a patient that ended up losing an eye. A young man was brought in by his wife almost suffocating with a saturation of 45%. After several tests and a resuscitation he turned out to have severe infection in his lungs. Our doctors drained multiple liters of pus out of his lungs and finally, the patient was transferred to a bigger hospital in Cusco. Only 1 day earlier, another docter somewhere had sent the young man home telling his wife to make him some tea and that would solve it. Meanwhile we have had our first corona patient at Diospi. After a week on oxygen he was discharged.

The lockdown also a major economic consequenses, especially here in Peru. The national bureau of statistics anounced on Friday that just in Lima alone approximately 1,2 million people have lost their jobs since the beginning of the crisis. Furthermore they have calculated that the Peruvian economy in March alone declined with 16,25%, a genuine disaster for many. Meanwhile the virus itself has not manifested itself in Curahuasi as much as was previously feared. Some studies suggest that the altitude is a big blessing in the fight against this virus. A possible explanation is that the super strong UV radiation kills the virus very quickly. Also people living in the altitude appear to have less socalled ACE2-receptors. These receptors play an important role in the infection with the corona virus so the relative absence of these receptors offers a certain protection. However the exact mechanism works, the fact is that while the hospitals in the northern jungle of Peru are full and even infected doctors have died due to a lack of oxygen bottles, several mountainous departments do not have many cases. Hopefully the government will cut back soon on the lockdown measures, at least at a regional level.

In April/May my parent were supposed to visit us in Curahuasi and in June we had a trip planned to Colombia but all these plan have now been canceled. Some weeks off would have been really welcome because Vikki and I are both quite tired since it has been almost 10 months since we had a bit of time off but God knows and we receive the energy we need.

To be continued.