Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said Tuesday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.
militaryezyinfo.com – The 65-year-old right-wing populist, known for mingling with crowds without covering his face, confirmed the results as he wore a mask and spoke to reporters who crowded in front of him in the capital, Brasilia.
Coronavirus: tested positive after the Brazilian president met with Donald Trump
He said he was taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that, like President Donald Trump, he has been promoting despite not yet being proven effective against COVID-19.
“I’m fine, I’m normal. I’m even going to take a walk here, but I can’t do that because of medical advice,” Bolsonaro said. Given that I’m very active, I think I have been before. I’m the president, on the front lines. I like to be among the people.”
Brazil, the world’s sixth-largest country with a population of more than 210 million, is one of the deadliest hotspots of the epidemic. More than 65,000 Brazilians have died from COVID-19 and more than 1.5 million have been infected.
Both figures are the second highest in the world, after the United States, although the true figure is thought to be higher due to a lack of extensive testing.
Other world leaders who have battled COVID-19 include British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Britain’s Prince Charles, Prince Albert II of Monaco and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez.
Mauricio Santoro, a professor of political science at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, said Bolsonaro was “the democratic leader who most denies the seriousness of the epidemic”. “He’s infected and it’s hitting his credibility. This will be seen as another example of the failure of his coronavirus response.”
Bolsonaro has often appeared in public, sometimes without a mask, shaking hands with supporters and mingling with crowds. He has said that his history as an athlete protects him from the virus and that if he contracted it, it would be a “little flu”.
He had also repeatedly said that there was no way to prevent 70 per cent of the population from falling ill from COVID-19 and that local authorities’ efforts to shut down economic activity would ultimately pose greater difficulties than allowing the virus to move on.
For nearly two months, Brazil’s fight against COVID-19 has been in the hands of an interim health minister who had no health experience before April. His former doctor and healthcare adviser resigned in protest over Bolsonaro’s support for hydroxychloroquine.
Bolsonaro on Tuesday likened the virus to a downpour that will rain on most people, and said some people, such as the elderly, must be extra careful.
“You can’t just talk about the consequences of the virus that you have to worry about. Life goes on. Brazil needs to produce. You need to make the economy work,” he said.
Last month, Brazilian cities and states began lifting restrictions imposed to control the spread of the virus, as deaths in intensive care units began to fall as the number of people dying from the disease declined.
Silas Ribeiro, a Bolsonaro supporter, said on the streets of Rio de Janeiro that the president was right to say the danger of the virus was exaggerated.
“Our president is a popular man. Ribeiro, 59, said he has shown he is not afraid of death. He will stay healthy and get through this disease.
Wesley Morielo, speaking near the recently reopened store in Rio, said he hoped Bolsonaro’s illness prompted him to reassess his position.
“I think everything he’s said before about not taking COVID-19 seriously is going to be bad for him,” said Morielo, a 24-year-old student.
Dr. Michael Ryan, head of emergencies at the World Health Organization, wished Bolsonaro a speedy recovery and said his infection “proves that it makes no difference” whether the virus is “a prince or a ghetto” and thus “makes this virus a reality”.
The president told reporters that he had undergone an X-ray on Monday after suffering from fever, muscle aches and general malaise. By Tuesday, he said, his fever had subsided and he attributed the improvement to hydroxychloroquine.
He stepped back from reporters and took off his mask to show he looked well.
Brazil’s benchmark Ibovespa stock index fell 1.4% in the afternoon after Bolsonaro’s announcement.
Since taking office, Bolsonaro has made several visits to hospitals and required several surgeries to repair his intestines after he was stabbed at a campaign event in 2018.
He said Tuesday that he canceled a trip to the country’s northeast this week and will continue to work via videoconference and receive rare visitors when he needs to sign documents.
Leandro Consentino, a political science professor at the University of São Paulo’s Insper, said that unlike the British prime minister, who toned down his rhetoric after testing positive for the virus, Bolsonaro may not change his position.
Consentino said: “He is trying to show his supporters that COVID-19 is just a bit of flu and is using the disease to promote chloroquine.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Bolsonaro posted a video to Facebook saying he took his dose of hydroxychloroquine. “I believe in hydroxychloroquine. What do you think?” He smiled.
Last weekend, the Brazilian leader celebrated Independence Day with the U.S. ambassador to Brazil, then took to social media to share photos of up-close encounters with diplomats, several ministers and aides. No one was wearing a mask.
The U.S. Embassy tweeted that Ambassador Todd Chapman did not exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms but would be tested.
After meeting with Trump in Florida, Bolsonaro tested negative three times in March. Members of his U.S. delegation were later reportedly infected.