Agencies: Latest news taking rounds indicate that Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive for Covid-19, after months of downplaying the pandemic virus.
Bolsonaro himself announced the result, speaking on Brazilian TV channels Tuesday. “Everyone knew that it would reach a considerable part of the population sooner or later. It was positive for me,” he said, referring to the Covid-19 test he took Monday.
“On Sunday, I wasn’t feeling very well. On Monday, it got worse when I started feeling tired and some muscle pain. I also had a 38-degree [Celsius] fever. Given those symptoms, the presidential doctor said there was suspicion of Covid-19,” Bolsonaro said, adding that he then went to hospital where scans of his lungs “came back clean.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Bolsonaro told CNN affiliate CNN Brasil that he had been treated with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as he awaited the result of his fourth Covid-19 test in four months. Hydroxychloroquine, though enthusiastically boosted by both Bolsonaro and US President Donald Trump, has not been proven as an effective treatment for Covid-19.
After announcing his positive result on Tuesday, Bolsonaro stepped back from the reporters he was addressing, removed his mask and, grinning, said: “Just look at my face. I’m well, fine, thank God … Thanks to all those who have been praying for me … and to those who criticise me, no problem, carry on criticising as much as you like.”
Bolsonaro also continued to undermine what he called “overblown” and panic-inducing attempts by Brazilian governors and mayors to slow the spread of the virus through shutdowns and social distancing.
“Some authorities even forbade people from going to the beach,” Bolsonaro complained, before claiming: “The majority of Brazilians contract this virus and don’t notice a thing”.
Bolsonaro’s diagnosis comes just three days after he had lunch at the home of the US ambassador to Brazil, Todd Chapman, in the capital, Brasília.
Also present at that Independence Day celebration were several top cabinet members, including the foreign minister, Ernesto Araújo, defense minister, Fernando Azevedo, and the president’s son, Eduardo, a politician who is Steve Bannon’s representative in South America. The men were photographed without face masks.
Reports of Bolsonaro’s possible infection first emerged on Monday evening, with local news outlets reporting that he had been tested after developing coronavirus symptoms, including a 38C temperature and a persistent cough.