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SANTO DOMINGO, DR, Fri. June 12, 2020 (Reuters) – Just three-and-a-half weeks away from the Dominican Republic’s presidential election, leading candidate Luis Abinader said he and his wife had 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 1 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.

According to a poll by the company Mark Penn/Stagwell published at the end of May, Abinader is leading on 39 percent, two points above the ruling party candidate Gonzalo Castillo.

If neither candidate obtained an absolute majority in the first round, they would face a run-off 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 here. In total, some 21,000 cases have been reported among the 10.6 million inhabitants, of which 550 have died.

(Reporting by Ezequiel Abiu Lopez in Santa Domingo Writing by Sarah Marsh in Havana Editing by Alistair Bell)

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