The cold wave hitting Peru’s southern Andes has killed 15 children under five years old and created a pandemic of respiratory diseases through the year, according to the country’s Health Ministry.
The children all died from pneumonia. Since the beginning of the cold snap, 431 cases of children with pneumonia have been recorded, among almost 40,000 people registered to have suffered respiratory problems, pneumonia or influenza, ministry figures show.
Temperatures in Puno, a region popular with tourists visiting Lake Titicaca, have plunged to about minus 20 degrees Celsius in the most remote areas.
“Cases of acute respiratory infections and pneumonia have increased compared with last year. Our first reaction has been to send health brigades to the areas affected by low temperatures,” said Julian Slas Portocarrero, regional health director of Puno.
Children under five and adults over 60 are considered the most vulnerable to extreme weather.