Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro tests positive for coronavirus


The Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, has announced live on television he has tested positive for coronavirus.


He took the test, his fourth, on Monday after developing symptoms, including a high temperature.


“It came back positive,” Bolsonaro told a hand-picked group of reporters on Tuesday lunchtime outside his official residence, where he was wearing a mask.


Mr Bolsonaro has repeatedly played down risks of what he has called the "little flu", saying he would not be seriously affected. He has opposed lockdowns, which he says hurt the economy.


Brazil has the second-highest number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in the world, after the US.


“There’s no reason for fear. That’s life,” the president added. “Life goes on. I thank God for my life and the role I’ve been given to decide the future of this great nation that is called Brazil.”


In March, as Covid-19 claimed its first victims in Brazil, the far-right populist used an address to the nation to brag that, if infected, he would quickly shake off the illness thanks to his “athlete’s background”.


He said he was taking hydroxychloroquine - championed by US President Donald Trump - and azithromycin, an antibiotic, to treat the illness. Neither has been proven to be effective against the virus.


Since then, Bolsonaro has continued to attend social events and political rallies, often wearing masks incorrectly, or not wearing them at all.


Contact tracing and tests will be carried out for the people Mr Bolsonaro has met recently.


His previous three tests for the virus all came back negative.


He has attended a number of public events without a mask, even when local rules required him to wear one.


Bolsonaro’s diagnosis comes just three days after he had lunch at the home of the US ambassador to Brazil, Todd Chapman, in the capital, Brasília.


Also present at that Independence Day celebration were several top cabinet members, including the foreign minister, Ernesto Araújo, defence minister, Fernando Azevedo, and the president’s son, Eduardo, a politician who is Steve Bannon’s representative in South America. The men were photographed without face masks.


The World Health Organizations emergencies chief, Dr Michael Ryan, said Bolsonaro’s situation showed how everyone was vulnerable. “It doesn’t matter to the virus if you are a prince or a pauper,” he said.


Bolsonaro has repeatedly downplayed the risks of Covid-19 and urged Brazil to get back to work to avoid a devastating economic crash but he is now the second member of his family suffering its effects.


The 80-year-old grandmother of Brazil’s first lady, Michelle Bolsonaro, was reportedly intubated on Sunday, after being admitted to hospital with coronavirus last Wednesday.


Infections in Brazil and Latin America as a whole took a while to take hold but then started to rise, initially for Brazil in its Amazonas region but then more starkly in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.


Brazil became only the second country to pass one million cases on 20 June and has continued to rise, passing 1.5 million. Many experts believe deficiencies in testing mean the overall figures for cases and deaths could be considerably higher.


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