Jair Bolsonaro: Brazil’s president says he has tested positive for coronavirus

He says he began feeling ill on Sunday

Zoe Tidman
Tuesday 07 July 2020 17:29
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Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for Covid-19

Brazil’s president has said he has tested positive for coronavirus.

Jair Bolsonaro – who has opposed lockdown measures and downplayed the dangers of Covid-19 – told reporters on Tuesday he had been diagnosed with the virus.

“I’m well, normal,” Brazil’s right-wing president said. “I even want to take a walk around here, but I can’t due to medical recommendations.”

According to earlier reports, Mr Bolsonaro had cancelled his schedule for the rest of the week after developing a fever.

He said he took the test on Monday after developing symptoms, but insisted on Tuesday his fever had gone down.

Mike Ryan from the World Health Organisation (WHO) health emergencies programme said: “We wish him a full and speedy recovery from this disease.”

The director for communicable diseases at the Pan American Health Organisation, Marcos Espinal, also wished the president a “speedy recovery”, adding the news should “reinforce the need to strengthen implementations of social distancing recommendations and the use of masks”.

Mr Bolsonaro has often appeared in public to shake hands with supporters and mingle with crowds despite the country’s outbreak, and has suggested his history as an athlete would protect him from the virus.

He was recently pictured at a lunch hosted by the US ambassador in Brazil during 4 July celebrations.

Brazil’s foreign minister tweeted an image of the event showing a group of men who were neither socially-distanced nor wearing masks.

In the interview broadcast on state-run TV Brasil, the president said he began feeling ill on Sunday and has been taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug with unproven effectiveness against Covid-19.

Donald Trump, the US president, previously claimed he was taking the same drug to stave off the virus – despite warnings from health authorities about its potentially dangerous side effects.

Mr Bolsonaro, who has previously called coronavirus “a little flu”, has repeatedly defied local guidelines to wear a mask in public, even after a judge ordered him to do so in late June.

He has also been a vocal critic of local lockdown measures that provincial leaders have put in place to try and limit the spread of the virus.

Brazil has been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and 65,000 deaths as of Tuesday.

It has suffered the second-largest outbreak in the world after the US to date.

Additional reporting by agencies

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