Australian opposition leader gets COVID while campaigning

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CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s opposition leader said he tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday in the second week of an election campaign ahead of the May 21 election.

Anthony Albanese, the 59-year-old leader of the center-left Labor Party, said he was feeling fine and would isolate at his Sydney home for a week.

“While at home, I will continue my responsibilities as alternative prime minister and will be fighting for a better future for all Australians,” Albanese said in a statement.

The diagnosis is a setback for his party, which is seeking its first election victory since 2010. Labor has been leading Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s conservative government in opinion polls in recent months.

Morrison, 53, tested positive for COVID-19 on March 1 and his symptoms were mild.

Morrison and Albanese came face to face Wednesday for the first time since the election was called on April 10 when they attended the first televised leaders’ debate of the campaign in Brisbane. They shook hands and posed together for photographs.

It was not immediately clear whether Morrison would also be sidelined from campaigning due to his close contact.

Hours before his positive test, Albanese wore a mask while talking to residents at Symons House retirement village in Nowra, a coastal town south of Sydney.

Albanese said he found he was infected after a routine PCR test Thursday afternoon ahead of a planned flight across the country to the west coast city of Perth.

Australia on Thursday reported 54,137 new coronavirus infections in the latest 24-hour period and 50 deaths in a population of 26 million.

Rod Mcguirk , The Associated Press

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