Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro met with supporters without wearing a mask days after he announced that he had recovered from the coronavirus. The 65-year-old, who is in the risk group for severe illness from SARS-CoV-2, celebrated his recovery by going on a bike trip around the capital Brasilia without safety precautions against the disease.
On 26 July, Bolsonaro posted a video on his Facebook account showing himself among supporters and journalists, who were wearing masks, but the president himself wasn’t. Speaking with his supporters, Bolsonaro shared his experience with self-isolation in the Alvorada Palace, saying it was "just terrible". He previously spoke about the difficulties of isolation and even ordered a second test for COVID-19 a week after he was diagnosed with the disease.
The development comes as Brazil, the second-hardest hit country in terms of infections and death toll, is continuing to see a huge rise in cases. At the time of writing, the country has more than 2.4 million cases and over 87,000 people have died from the disease.
Bolsonaro has been harshly criticised domestically for the way he has been handling the coronavirus outbreak, in particular his scepticism about how dangerous the disease is. He has appeared at rallies without wearing a mask and shaken hands with supporters despite government rules obliging people to maintain social distancing and wear protective equipment. But not only has he flouted safety rules, he has criticised the media and local governors for introducing measures to curb the spread of the disease, saying they are more harmful than the coronavirus, which Bolsonaro has called a "little flu".
He removed his mask when telling reporters that he had tested positive for COVID-19. This led the Brazilian Press Association to file a lawsuit in Brazil’s Supreme Court for exposing media workers to the disease.