LIMA (Reuters) - Peruvian police and soldiers on Thursday closed a busy food market in the capital Lima after mass rapid testing confirmed more than 160 of its traders had tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Members of the security forces cordoned off the market in the San Martín de Porras district, only allowing merchants with masks to enter to remove their merchandise.
Peru has seen a rapid rise in the number of infections of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, with more than 30,000 cases reported as of this week. More than 1,000 people have died in the outbreak, the second highest number in Latin America.
Hospitals are feeling the strain, with bodies being kept in hallways and masks being reused. Protests have broken out among medical workers concerned about their safety.
President Martin Vizcarra on Wednesday raised a red flag about informal street markets where social distancing measures are rarely practiced and the use of protective gloves or masks is scarce.
He said that in the San Martín de Porras market, which attracts hundreds of shoppers each day, 842 rapid discard tests were carried out on traders selling food, of which 163 had come back positive.
“When people buy potatoes, or lettuce or any other product, they will take COVID-19 home with them,” Vizcarra said at a news conference.
Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Paul Simao