Brazil President Bolsonaro tests positive for coronavirus

July 7, 2020 - 11:52 PM
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Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro speaks with journalists while wearing a protective face mask as he arrives at Alvorada Palace, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brasilia, Brazil, May 22, 2020. (Reuters/Adriano Machado TPX Images of the day/File Photo)

SAO PAULO — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Tuesday he tested positive for the novel coronavirus, adding in a television interview that he was in good health despite running a fever.

The right-wing populist, who has played down the severity of the virus which he has called a “little flu,” took the test on Monday after developing symptoms.

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

Brazil has the world’s second-largest outbreak behind the United States. Latin America’s largest country has more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and 65,000 COVID-19 deaths.

Bolsonaro 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 Organization.

Over the weekend, Bolsonaro attended several events and was in close contact with U.S. Ambassador Todd Chapman during July 4 celebrations. Pictures showed neither wearing a mask.

The U.S. embassy in Brasilia said via Twitter on Monday that the ambassador had lunch on July 4 with Bolsonaro, five ministers and the president’s son, Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro. The ambassador had no symptoms, but would undergo testing and is “taking precautions,” the embassy said. —Reporting by Ana Mano Writing by Stephen Eisenhammer Editing by Brad Haynes and Daniel Flynn