Brazil's President Bolsonaro tests positive for COVID-19

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said Tuesday he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the virus’ severity.

Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and speaking to reporters in capital Brasilia, and said he is already taking hydroxychloroquine — an anti-malarial unproven to effectively treat COVID-19.

“I'm well, normal. I even want to take a walk around here, but I can't due to medical recommendations,” Bolsonaro said. “I thought I had it before, given my very dynamic activity. I’m president and on the combat lines. I like to be in the middle of the people.”

The 65-year-old populist has often appeared in public to shake hands with supporters and mingle with crowds, at times without a mask. He has said that his history as an athlete would protect him from the virus, and that it would be nothing more than a “little flu” were he to contract it.

16 PHOTOS
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the coronavirus pandemic
See Gallery
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the coronavirus pandemic
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference on July 6 ,2020 in New York City, where he announced that President Donald Trump is enabling the coronavirus pandemic by not wearing a mask and downplaying the problem. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP) (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 6: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a COVID-19 briefing on July 6, 2020 in New York City. On the 128th day since the first confirmed case in New York and on the first day of phase 3 of the reopening, Gov. Cuomo asked New Yorkers to continue to be smart while citing the rise of infections in other states. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 6: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a COVID-19 briefing on July 6, 2020 in New York City. On the 128th day since the first confirmed case in New York and on the first day of phase 3 of the reopening, Gov. Cuomo asked New Yorkers to continue to be smart while citing the rise of infections in other states. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 6: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a COVID-19 briefing on July 6, 2020 in New York City. On the 128th day since the first confirmed case in New York and on the first day of phase 3 of the reopening, Gov. Cuomo asked New Yorkers to continue to be smart while citing the rise of infections in other states. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 01: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference on July 1, 2020 in New York City. The governor expressed alarm at Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci's recent prediction that there could be 100,000 new Covid-19 cases per day and provided a number of updates related to an increase of states where out-of-state visitors will be required to quarantine for 14 days. (Photo by Byron Smith/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2020/06/24: Governor Andrew Cuomo makes an announcement and holds media briefing at 3rd Avenue office. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont joined Cuomo with announcement of incoming travel advisory that all individuals traveling from states with significant community spread of COVID-19 quarantine for a 14-day period from the time of last contact within the identified state. This quarantine applies to any person arriving from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average or a state with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2020/06/24: Governor Andrew Cuomo makes an announcement and holds media briefing at 3rd Avenue office. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont joined Cuomo with announcement of incoming travel advisory that all individuals traveling from states with significant community spread of COVID-19 quarantine for a 14-day period from the time of last contact within the identified state. This quarantine applies to any person arriving from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average or a state with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 6: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a COVID-19 briefing on July 6, 2020 in New York City. On the 128th day since the first confirmed case in New York and on the first day of phase 3 of the reopening, Gov. Cuomo asked New Yorkers to continue to be smart while citing the rise of infections in other states. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)
BROOKLYN, NY - MAY 28: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo along with Comedian/Actor Chris Rock and Actress Rosie Perez holds daily covid-19 press conference to push mask use to protect against Coronavirus spread at Madison Square Boys and Girls Club on May 28, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York City. Credit: Mpi43/MediaPunch /IPX
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo steps from his car as he arrives at NewYork Stock Exchange to ring the opening bell as the trading floor partially reopens, Tuesday, May 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo briefs the media during a coronavirus news conference at his office in New York City, Saturday, May 9, 2020. (John Roca/New York Post via AP, Pool)
In this photo provided by the Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Gov. Cuomo briefs the media at Marist College, Friday, May 8, 2020, in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. On Friday, the Governor extended the Child Victims Act filing deadline to January 2021 allowing extra time, allowing New York residents who were sexually abused as children to sue those responsible. The extended deadline is to make up for curtailed court services during the coronavirus pandemic. (Darren McGee/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo via AP)
In this photo provided by the Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New York Gov. Cuomo tries out a spraying device which is part of a three-step disinfecting process of a New York City subway car at the Corona Maintenance Facility in the Queens borough of of New York, Saturday, May 2, 2020. Cuomo announced on Thursday April 30, that New York City is shutting down its subway system each day from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. to increase cleaning of trains and stations during the coronavirus crisis. (Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo via AP)
In this photo provided by the Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority employee, left, explains part of a three-step disinfectant process of a New York City Subway train car to New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at the Corona Maintenance Facility in the borough of Queens borough of New York, Saturday, May 2, 2020. Gov. Cuomo announced on Thursday April 30, that New York City is shutting down its subway system each day from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. to increase cleaning of trains and stations during the coronavirus crisis. (Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo via AP)
SYRACUSE, NY - APRIL 28: New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during his daily Coronavirus press briefing at SUNY Upstate Medical University on April 28, 2020 in Syracuse, New York. Cuomo detailed guidelines to reopening parts of New York State around May 15, 2020. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)
ALBANY, NY - APRIL 17: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo gives his a press briefing about the coronavirus crisis on April 17, 2020 in Albany, New York.Cuomo along with governors from other East Coast states are extending their shutdown of nonessential businesses to May 15. “We have to continue doing what we’re doing. I’d like to see that infection rate get down even more...", he said. (Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

He also repeatedly said that there is no way to prevent 70% of the population falling ill with COVID-19, and that local authorities' measures to shut down economic activity would ultimately cause more hardship than allowing the virus to run its course.

Bolsonaro on Tuesday repeated those sentiments, comparing the virus to a rain that will fall on most people, and that some, like the elderly, must take greater care.

"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 get the economy in gear,″ he said.

Cities and states last month began lifting restrictions that had been imposed to control the spread of the virus, as their statistical curves of deaths began to decline along with the occupation rate of its intensive-care units. Brazil, the world’s sixth most populous nation, with more than 210 million people, is one of the global hot spots of the pandemic.

Bolsonaro said he has canceled a trip to the northeast region that was planned for this week. He will continue working via videoconference and receive rare visitors when he needs to sign a document, he said.

The president underwent an X-ray of his lungs on Monday after experiencing fever, muscle aches and malaise, he told reporters. As of Tuesday, his fever had subsided, he said, and attributed the improvement to hydroxychloroquine, which he has long promoted despite growing medical consensus it does not work against COVID-19. He stepped back from the journalists and removed his mask at one point to show that he looks well.

Over the weekend, the Brazilian leader celebrated the U.S. Independence Day with the nation’s ambassador to Brazil, then shared pictures on social media showing him in close quarters with the ambassador, several ministers and aides. None wore masks.

The U.S. Embassy said on Twitter on Monday that Ambassador Todd Chapman is not showing any COVID-19 symptoms but would be tested.

Bolsonaro tested negative three times in March after meeting with the U.S. President Donald Trump in Florida. Multiple members of his delegation to the U.S. were later reported to be infected with the virus.

More than 65,000 Brazilians have so far died from COVID-19 and more than 1,500,000 have been infected. Both numbers are the world's second-highest totals, and are considered to be undercounts to the lack of widespread testing.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly visited the hospital since taking office, requiring several operations to repair his intestines after he was stabbed on the campaign trail in 2018.

Read Full Story

From Our Partners