The day before elections, Peru marks record COVID-19 deaths


FILE PHOTO: Senior citizens wait to receive a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine in Lima, Peru March 23, 2021. REUTERS/Sebastian Castaneda/File Photo

LIMA (Reuters) - One day before it holds presidential and congressional elections, Peru on Saturday marked a second daily record death rate from the coronavirus pandemic that is engulfing the country anew.

The health ministry said 384 deaths had been recorded, taking the total death toll to 54,669, as healthcare workers battle a shortage of medical oxygen and saturated hospitals, and the government struggles to secure sufficient vaccination supplies. On Wednesday, Peru marked its first record number of dead - 314 - the worst since the pandemic hit the country with a first wave in March 2020.

On Sunday millions of Peruvians are expected to go out to vote at polling stations around the country to pick their next president and congressional representatives. Voting is obligatory, on threat of a $25 fine, polling station numbers have been increased to facilitate social distancing and voters have been urged to bring their own pens and wear masks.

The Andean nation of some 33 million inhabitants has so far received just over 1.5 million doses of vaccines from Sinopharm and Pfizer/BioNTech, a figure that lags behind its Latin American neighbors.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino; writing by Aislinn Laing; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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