Brazil great Pele had COVID-19 before going to hospital

Pele had COVID-19 and a heart rate below normal before being hospitalized last Tuesday, his daughters have confirmed.

The 82-year-old tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 17 and has been treated with medication to control pain and fever, but COVID was one of the initial reasons he was taken to the hospital, sources told ESPN.

"About three weeks ago he got Covid," Kely Nascimento said to Brazilian TV. "He is vaccinated, with all the vaccines, but because of the cancer medication, the chemotherapy, which is fragile, he got a lung infection. That's why he went to the hospital, because of the lung infection.

"It's serious because of his age and because he is being treated for cancer."

Flavia Nascimento said: "At hospital, he is better assisted. But he's not in the ICU, he's in a normal room. So, he's not at risk. As a person with a more delicate health, it is better for him to be in the hospital. It is very unfair to start talking that he is in a terminal state, with palliative treatment. It's not that. Believe us. More than anyone else, we don't want that moment to come. Of course, one day it will happen, but it's not now, you don't need to be in that alarm anticipating a situation that doesn't exist now."

The soccer legend, who is battling colon cancer, was admitted to the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo for a respiratory infection and remains in stable condition, according to a statement released on Saturday.

Before that, he was being treated for metastatic cancer at his home in Guaruja, on the coast of Sao Paulo. During the days before his hospitalization, Pele had respiratory issues and the exams performed on Wednesday determined that he has bronchopneumonia.

Pele's heart rate was also diagnosed with bradyarrhythmia, an abnormality that causes the heart to work at a rhythm below what is considered normal, the sources added.

The Albert Einstein hospital said on Friday that Pele is getting antibiotics to treat an infection at the same time he undergoes chemotherapy against cancer.

On Sunday, the sixth day of Pele's hospitalization, the Albert Einstein Hospital did not release a new statement on his condition.

Pele, had a colon tumor removed in September 2021, helped Brazil win the 1958, 1962 and 1970 World Cups and remains the team's all-time leading scorer with 77 goals in 92 matches.

Information from ESPN Brazil was used in this story.