Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro announced on Tuesday he had tested positive for the coronavirus but said he was feeling “perfectly well” and had only mild symptoms.
Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and speaking to reporters in capital Brasilia. “I’m well, normal. I even want to take a walk around here, but I can’t due to medical recommendations,” Bolsonaro said.
He took the test on Monday evening, according to a statement from the presidency. “I came from the hospital,” Bolsonaro told supporters after stepping out of his car on Monday evening in comments broadcast by a pro-government YouTube channel.
“But all is good,” he added. Bolsonaro said he had undergone a lung scan, which had showed them to be “clean.”
The populist leader has repeatedly defied local guidelines to wear a mask in public, even after a judge ordered him to do so in late June. Bolsonaro has also railed against social distancing rules supported by the World Health Organisation.
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.
He has 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.
Brazil has the world’s second-largest outbreak behind the United States. More than 65,000 people have been killed by COVID-19 in Latin America’s largest country.
Over the weekend, Bolsonaro attended several events and was in close contact with the U.S. ambassador to Brazil during July 4 celebrations. Pictures of the event showed neither wearing a mask.
The US embassy in Brasilia said via Twitter that Todd Chapman, the ambassador, had lunch on July 4 with Bolsonaro, five ministers and Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo, who is a federal congressman. The ambassador had no symptoms, but would undergo testing and is “taking precautions,” the embassy said.
Bolsonaro tested negative in March for the coronavirus after several aides were diagnosed following a visit to U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, Florida, estate.
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