The President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, confirmed that he has tested positive for coronavirus during an interview broadcast to TV Brasil.
Bolsonaro said during the interview that he had started feeling sick on Sunday and has now been taking the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to cure the disease. The effectiveness of this drug against COVID-19 has however been disputed by scientists.
The news follows reports that the Brazilian president had been experiencing coronavirus symptoms, including a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius and a blood oxygen level of 96 percent. According to the Globo's report, the 65-year-old politician has informed his supporters that he decided to take the test after he experienced body aches and a fever. Bolsonaro also reportedly claimed that his lungs were "clean" following an x-ray test.
The president then tested for coronavirus and was awaiting the results on Tuesday, which are now said to have come back positive.
According to the president's comments as cited by Reuters on 26 June, he has previously tested negative for the disease at least twice, but he suspected a few days ago that he had contracted the virus.
WHO Reacts to Bolsonaro’s Test Results
The World Health Organization (WHO) wished the Brazilian president a “speedy and full recovery” from the disease following the news.
"Other leaders around the world have had similar experiences. I think it brings home for us all the reality of this virus. We are all potentially exposed to this virus, it doesn't know who we are, whether we are prince or pauper. It highlights our collective vulnerability”, Michael Ryan, the WHO Health Emergencies Programme Executive Director, told a virtual briefing.
Brazilian President's Stance on Pandemic
Bolsonaro has been an outspoken critic of lockdown measures, urging state businesses to re-open. At the end of March he reportedly dubbed COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, a “little flu”. He has also repeatedly refused to wear a face mask when in public and has defied social distancing rules. On 4 July, Bolsonaro had a meeting with US Ambassador Todd Chapman, during which the two were photographed without wearing masks.
Muito honrado em receber o senhor presidente @jairbolsonaro este #4deJulho para celebrar os 198 anos das relações entre 🇧🇷 e 🇺🇸 e os 244 anos da independência dos Estados Unidos. Continuamos #TrabalhandoJuntos! pic.twitter.com/CpzlarGgyS— Embaixador Todd Chapman (@USAmbBR) July 4, 2020
According to Johns Hopkins University data provided on 7 July, Brazil has had over 1,623,000 registered cases of coronavirus which have resulted in more than 65,400 deaths, the second-highest death toll in the world, after the United States.