Belarus’ president Alexander Lukashenko said Tuesday that he tested positive for the coronavirus but did not have any symptoms.

“You are now meeting with a person who has managed to come through the coronavirus on their feet. That is what doctors concluded yesterday. I was asymptomatic”, Lukashenko said.

Belarus has so far reported 67,366 infections and 543 deaths from the virus. Lukashenko has repeatedly downplayed the gravity of the disease, and called fears about the pandemic “mass psychosis”.

As the pandemic broadened in April, prompting other countries to impose strict lockdowns, Lukashenko could be seen playing ice hockey at a venue full of spectators. He said he was more worried from the economic impact of the lockdown than the virus itself: “More people will die from unemployment and hunger than the coronavirus”, he said earlier.

The president has led the country since 1994. He is running for his sixth term in the election scheduled for August 9, and has been widely expected to win.

Last week, election officials barred Lukashenko’s two main rivals from entering the race, sparking anti-government protests. Belarus’ previous presidential elections have been widely criticised as not being free or fair.

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