Dominican presidential contender tests positive for COVID-19

Country is one of the worst-affected by the coronavirus pandemic in Latin America, with 1 of every 500 people infected.

Luis Abinader presidential election
Dominican Revolutionary Party candidate Luis Abinader speaks to the media in Santo Domingo [File: Kena Betancur/Reuters]

Just three-and-a-half weeks away from the Dominican Republic’s presidential election, leading candidate Luis Abinader said he and his wife have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The country is one of the worst-affected by the coronavirus pandemic in the Caribbean and Latin America, with one out of every 500 people infected, and remains in a state of emergency.

Still, presidential and legislative elections are set to go ahead on July 5, after being postponed from the original date of May 16 due to the outbreak. Some 7.5 million Dominicans are expected to cast their ballot at home and abroad.

“Be tranquil because with God’s grace we will recover quickly,” Abinader, 52, said on his social media accounts late on Wednesday.

The leader of the opposition social democratic Modern Revolutionary Party said his doctors had forecast a rapid recovery given he was not a high-risk patient, adding that he and his wife were self-isolating at home.

A poll by the company Mark Penn/Stagwell published at the end of May, suggests that Abinader is leading the race with 39 percent support, two points above the governing party candidate, Gonzalo Castillo.

If neither candidate obtained an absolute majority in the first round, they would face a runoff on July 26.

Abinader’s opponents were among those to publicly wish him a quick recovery.

“We ask God for his quick recovery and good health,” President Danilo Medina wrote on Twitter. “You have all our support and solidarity.”

The fact the Dominican Republic is such a tourist hub was a major contributing factor to the spread of coronavirus in the country. In total, some 21,000 cases have been reported among the 10.6 million inhabitants, of which 550 have died.

Source: Reuters