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Peru to vote with masks, little enthusiasm

·1-min read

Peruvians are preparing to head to the polls in a presidential election marked by uncertainty due to widespread public apathy following decades of corruption and mismanagement.

Turnout is also expected to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Polls are scheduled to open on Sunday morning local time, with twice as many sites available to voters than in previous elections as authorities try to avoid fuelling a second wave of the coronavirus, which has gripped the South American nation.

None of the 18 presidential candidates have polled more than 12 per cent and a 'no vote' is still the most popular choice for disgruntled respondents ahead of the first round of voting.

Two contenders from opposite poles of the political spectrum could face off in the second round in June.

Hernando de Soto, a liberal economist, and radical leftist professor Pedro Castillo, have edged to the front of the pack following late upticks in support, according to the latest polls.

Keiko Fujimori, the conservative, US-educated daughter of jailed former president Alberto Fujimori, is close behind, followed by populist candidate Yonhy Lescano, ultra-conservative Rafael Lopez Aliaga and leftist candidate Veronika Mendoza.

The gap between those candidates is within the margin of error, according to pollster Ipsos Peru.

The tight race has led to jitters among market watchers of the world's second-largest copper producer.

Peru's 25.2 million eligible voters have been told to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and bring their own pens to mark ballots.

Peru reported 384 deaths from the virus on Saturday, a record daily high for the country.

Although voting is mandatory in Peru, there are concerns that many residents will disregard the threat of a $US25 ($A33) fine and stay at home.