Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro announced Tuesday that he has tested positive for Covid-19, after repeatedly downplaying the disease as a “little flu” and pushing to reopen Brazil’s economy as the pandemic has exploded in the South American nation.
- Bolsonaro downplayed his positive test result as he announced it on Brazilian television Tuesday, saying that “everyone knew that it would reach a considerable part of the population sooner or later” and telling reporters he felt “good, relaxed.”
- The Brazilian president had previously said on Monday that he had been tested for the disease after experiencing worsening symptoms including a high temperature and a cough, but that his lungs were “clean.”
- Bolsonaro has repeatedly minimized fears of the coronavirus and claimed Tuesday that young people who contract Covid-19 should “be calm,” even as Brazil has become one of the hardest-hit countries by the pandemic.
- Bolsonaro has attacked social distancing measures like lockdowns and mask-wearing mandates as “dictatorial” and “poison” to the country’s economy.
- Bolsonaro had a previous scare with coronavirus after top aides tested positive for the virus in March, but claimed at the time that if he got the disease, his “history as an athlete” meant the disease “would be like a little flu or little cold.”
- The president’s diagnosis comes after Bolsonaro had recently repeatedly appeared in public without a mask, including attending a July 4 celebration at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia.
“Life will continue, and Brazil needs to produce,” Bolsonaro said after announcing his diagnosis. “If the economy isn’t functioning, it will create other problems that will lead to more death.”
1,623,284: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Brazil as of July 7, according to Johns Hopkins University data, making the country only second to the U.S. in terms of cases.
Bolsonaro’s positive Covid-19 diagnosis makes the Brazilian president the second high-profile world leader to contract the disease after publicly downplaying it, after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was previously diagnosed—and later hospitalized—with Covid-19 in March and April. Other world leaders who have contracted Covid-19 include Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.