Brazilians are preparing to head to the polls for municipal election runoffs on Sunday, as COVID-19 infections continue to surge in the South American country.
Voters will cast their ballots in mayoral and city council races in 57 Brazilian municipalities, including Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the country’s two most-populous cities, where mayoral races remain undecided.
Brazil’s first round of voting on November 15 involved some 500,000 city council candidates and 19,000 mayoral candidates in more than 5,570 municipalities.
The vote was the first time Brazilians had gone to the ballot box since far-right President Jair Bolsonaro was elected in 2018.
Bolsonaro-backed candidates performed poorly in the first round, with only nine of nearly 60 candidates backed by the president advancing to the next round, according to a tally by Estado de S Paulo newspaper.
Bolsonaro, who has resisted COVID-19 restrictions and been antagonistic towards local leaders who have imposed lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus, won Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro easily in 2018.
But the two candidates he backed in those cities this time around did not advance to the runoffs.
On Saturday, Brazil registered 51,922 new cases of COVID-19 and 587 additional deaths linked to the virus, bringing its totals since the pandemic began to more than 6.2 million cases and more than 172,500 deaths.
Brazil has the third-highest tallies of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the world, after India and the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.
On Friday, Guilherme Boulos, a rising star of the Brazilian left who is running to be mayor of Sao Paulo, tested positive for COVID-19.
The diagnosis forced Boulos to cancel his final debate against centrist incumbent Mayor Bruno Covas, who contracted the virus himself in June.
Boulos’s campaign said he is asymptomatic but “will observe the quarantine protocol for the necessary period”.