Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been an outspoken skeptic when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, having repeatedly downplayed its severity and resisted the imposition of widespread lockdowns in his country.
The right-leaning populist president may be forced to eat some crow now, however, after having himself tested positive for COVID-19, the Associated Press reported.
Bolsonaro tests positive
President Bolsonaro informed reporters of his positive test results on Tuesday while wearing a mask in the nation’s capital of Brasilia, according to the AP. He told the assembled journalists that he had undergone a chest X-ray on Monday after suffering from a fever, muscle aches, and general malaise.
His fever has since subsided, however, and his X-rays have been clear.
“I’m, well, normal. I even want to take a walk around here, but I can’t due to medical recommendations,” the Brazilian leader told reporters, according to the AP. “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 AP noted that the last line from the president was in reference to the fact that Bolsonaro is well known for mingling and shaking hands with crowds of the Brazilian people, often without wearing a mask or maintaining the recommended distance from others.
According to The Hill, President Bolsonaro also revealed to the media that he is taking hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for his infection, the same drug that has been touted by President Donald Trump and deemed by Henry Ford Health System researchers in Michigan as moderately effective in cutting COVID-19 deaths, but which has been declared all but useless by the mainstream media.
In countering the prevailing media narratives about the new coronavirus, Bolsonaro has repeatedly suggested that it is the equivalent of a “little flu” for the vast majority of those who become infected by it and that only the elderly and others at high risk needed to be overly concerned about it.
As The New York Times has noted, he has also said that economic shutdowns would do more harm than good since there was no real way to contain the virus and prevent a majority of the people from eventually contracting it: “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.”
According to the AP, Brazil — the sixth-largest nation in the world — currently ranks second behind the United States in terms of the most confirmed cases and deaths from the virus, with more than 1.5 million cases and at least 65,000 deaths so far. Given the lack of widespread testing, however, those reported numbers are likely lower than reality.
Second brush with virus
This actually isn’t Bolsonaro’s first brush with the virus, as he was tested multiple times in March following a visit to the U.S. to meet with President Trump in Florida, after which at least one of his top aides tested positive, as the Miami Herald reported at the time.
The mainstream media will undoubtedly adopt a “told you so” attitude in covering Bolsonaro’s positive coronavirus test, but it will be interesting to see if that coverage shifts if the Brazilian president manages to quickly recover from the illness — especially if he does so with the help of Trump’s “game-changer” drug.