SAO PAULO (AFP): After downplaying the pandemic for months, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has said that he has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and speaking to reporters in Brasilia. He said, “I’m well, normal. I even want to take a walk around here, but I can’t due to medical recommendations.”
The right-wing populist said that he began feeling ill on Sunday and has been taking hydroxychloroquine. He took the test on Monday after developing symptoms.
He claimed that his history as an athlete would protect him from the virus and that it would be nothing more than little flu.
The president has often appeared in public to shake hands with supporters, at times without a mask. Bolsonaro has repeatedly defied local guidelines to wear a mask in public, even after a judge ordered him to do so in late June.
Earlier in March, Bolsonaro tested negative three times after meeting with US President Donald Trump in Florida as multiple members of his delegation were later reported to be infected with the virus.
Over the weekend, Bolsonaro attended several events and was in close contact with US Ambassador Todd Chapman. The US embassy in Brasilia said that the ambassador had lunch on July 4 with Bolsonaro. “The ambassador had no symptoms, but would undergo testing and is “taking precautions,” the embassy said.
Brazil has the world’s second-largest outbreak behind the United States. The country has more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and 65,000 COVID-19 deaths.