"I’m scared, get vaccinated, this is not a game"Aquilia Huamaní, one of thousands of patients infected in the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, which is hitting Peru driven by the omicron variant, told AFP.

With 60% of his lungs affected, Huamaní, 63, was admitted on Wednesday to the Intensive Care Unit of the Alberto Sabogal hospital in Callao, a port city adjacent to Lima.

"Like everyone else I am afraid, but I must have a positive mind. I would like everyone to be vaccinated and aware before they get worse", expressed the woman who receives oxygen therapy for pneumonia derived from covid-19.

This housewife arrived at the hospital from the Lima district of Los Olivos, in the north of the capital.

The Ministry of Health confirmed nine days ago that the South American country, with 33 million inhabitants, is going through a new wave of pandemic after the New Year and Christmas holidays.

On Thursday, the country registered a record 33,360 new cases of covid in one day.

– Not vaccinated in ICU -Hernando Cevallos, Minister of Health, revealed that more than 90% of the deceased in the second half of 2021 were people who were not vaccinated against covid-19.

In addition, on Wednesday he maintained that people without vaccination against covid represent 90% of patients in these areas. "They are filling our ICUs"he warned.

"The largest number of unvaccinated patients are those who are arriving at the Intensive Care Unit", confirmed the Manager of the Alberto Sabogal hospital, Edgar Miguel Siccha.

New infections are due to the highly contagious omicron variant in almost all regions of Peru.

82% of new cases are due to the omicron variant in Metropolitan Lima, according to the ministry.

"The omicron variant is predominating due to its high infection rate, it is not as aggressive, but due to the proportion of cases of patients with other diseases, many end up in critical areas"Dr. Christian Jiménez, from the Sabogal Hospital ICU, which has 80% of the beds occupied, explained to AFP.

– "this disease kills you" -"I feel tired, I’m short of breath, I can’t breathe well", declared María Manrique, 76, who was transferred to the hospital from the province of Barranca, 180 kilometers north of Lima.

Nurses and doctors work with biosafety suits and double masks, to care for patients infected with the virus.

Some patients are mechanically ventilated. Many have rosaries and a small image of the Lord of Miracles above their beds.

"This disease kills you. What are people waiting to get vaccinated? There should be a law to punish those who do not want to be vaccinated. Now there is another plague called omicron. Where do we get?", said Oswaldo Yupanqui, 84, who has been in the hospital for nine days.

The South American country, which is approaching 2.5 million confirmed cases of covid-19, seeks to contain the pandemic by reducing capacity.

The government reduced the capacity to 40% in shopping malls, restaurants and closed spaces in 24 provinces of the country, including Lima, rated at a high level of the pandemic.

Dozens of people wake up in long lines to undergo tests and get vaccinated in hospitals and vaccination centers in the capital for a week.

At the most critical moments, Peruvian hospitals had more than 14,000 patients with coronavirus. Now they exceed 5,000, according to official data.

Siccha highlights the "large number of patients" who come to take the covid-19 test. About 60% test positive, says the doctor.

The country has the highest death rate from covid-19 in the world, with 6,122 deaths per million inhabitants, according to official data

Peru accumulates 203,157 deaths from covid-19 since March 2020.

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