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Amid a surge in coronavirus infections, Peruvians will go to the polls on April 11 to elect a new president and Congress.
Peru just registered a record single-day death toll, while the country is heading towards an election next weekend to determine a new president and Congress. 294 deaths were recorded on Saturday, up from a previous record of 277 deaths reported in August, said the Peruvian health minister.
New Covid-19 cases reached 5,600 putting Peru among several Latin American countries, struggling to contain a recent surge in infections spurred in part by new, more easily transmissible virus strains. While recently Chile approved postponing a vote to elect an assembly to replace the current constitution, which dates back to Pinochet's regime, Peru has maintained April 11 as its election date.
The global pandemic has ravaged Peru's economy, while political turmoil during the past year and corruption allegations against former President Martin Vizcarra has devastated the political landscape. In February, a scandal broke out as revelations surfaced that Vizcarra, along with 500 Peruvian government officials, received COVID-19 vaccines out of turn, thanks to their connections. The scandal prompted the country's health and foreign affairs ministers to resign.
A recent opinion poll by Datum Internacional found that populist presidential candidate Yonhy Lescano had consolidated his lead over five other candidates. Among 18 candidates, Lescano, from the Popular Action party, had 12.1 percent support but far short of the 50 percent needed to avoid a second round. The poll showed Keiko Fujimori with 7.9 percent support, former football goalkeeper George Forsyth at 7.4 percent, and ultra-conservative Rafael Lopez Aliaga with 7.2 percent. Liberal economist Hernando de Soto had 6.5 percent, and left-wing candidate Veronica Mendoza had 5.7 percent.
Recent polls show as many as 30 percent of Peruvians will vote blank next Sunday.
Meanwhile, the recent rise in coronavirus infections in Peru and elsewhere in Latin America, which has stretched healthcare networks to their limits and led to greater poverty and economic insecurity, has prompted experts' warnings. The head of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said last week that Peru was one of several countries in the region – alongside Brazil and Paraguay – seeing high numbers of coronavirus-related deaths.