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Portuguese president tests positive for coronavirus


(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 2, 2020 Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa attends a memorial ceremony for the Covid-19 victims at Belem palace in Lisbon. – Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa tested positive for the novel coronavirus and had to cancel his entire public agenda two weeks before the presidential election on January 24, a ballot for which he is widely favored, the presidency announced on January 11, 2021 evening. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)

Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has tested positive for coronavirus and cancelled all public engagements, his office announced late Monday just two weeks before a presidential election he is expected to win.

The 72-year-old head of state was “asymptomatic” and isolating in the presidential palace in Lisbon, his office said in a statement.

Last Wednesday, he had spent a few hours in “administrative isolation” after a member of his entourage tested positive, but the president then tested negative and had not been placed in quarantine because his contact with the person concerned had been considered “low risk”.

Portugal is facing a new lockdown after a record 122 deaths in the past 24 hours and nearly 4,000 people in hospital on Monday.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa said the Socialist government was preparing to announce on Wednesday restrictions similar to those imposed during the first lockdown in March.

The campaign for the January 24 presidential election, which officially began on Sunday, had already been cut to the bare minimum and will be suspended on the announcement of a new lockdown to curb the surge in new cases.

Polls predict the re-election of the conservative Rebelo de Sousa in the first round of a ballot with no candidate officially supported by the ruling Socialists.

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