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Third Peru presidential candidate contracts Covid-19

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Ex-footballer George Forsyth has become the third candidate in Peru's presidential elections Sunday to test positive for the coronavirus, as the country also recorded a record daily death rate.

Unlike neighbor Chile, which had also been due to hold elections on Sunday but postponed them in the face of the health crisis, Peru's president has decided to push ahead, and some 25 million people are eligible to go out and vote.

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With a week to go, Peru on Saturday reported a record daily 294 coronavirus deaths.

And on Sunday, Forsyth's entourage announced he had tested positive for Covid-19 after developing symptoms during a tour of the north of the country.

Peruvian presidential candidate for the National Victory Party George Forsyth gestures during the first televised debate round organized by the National Electoral Jury in Lima on March 29, 2021. - Six out of 18 presidential candidates participated in the debate two weeks before elections in Peru. (Photo by SEBASTIAN CASTANEDA / POOL / AFP)


He immediately cancelled all public meetings scheduled for the last week of campaigning, his running mate Patricia Arevalo told AFP.

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A poll Sunday showed Forsyth, the candidate of the center-right Victoria Nacional party, in fourth place among 18 candidates vying for the presidency.

Forsyth was a goalkeeper for club Alianza Lima, and also played for Peru.

None of the 18 candidates has more than 10 percent of polled support, and if none wins an outright majority Sunday, six will go through to a second-round on June 6.

Forsyth is the third candidate to have been infected during the election campaign, along with Julio Guzman and Ciro Galvez.

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The pandemic has claimed more than 52,600 lives in Peru, with more than 1.5 million recorded infections in a population of 33 million, according to official data.

The South American continent is battling a surge in infections fueled by new virus variants believed to be more contagious.

Peru reported a record of nearly 13,000 new cases last Thursday as it entered a four-day national lockdown for the Easter weekend in a bid to limit new infections.

Vaccination of health personnel, soldiers, police, firefighters, and the elderly started in February.

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