Conservative Brazlian president Jair Bolsonaro, who has long downplayed the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic, has tested positive for the coronavirus. Bolsonaro himself made the announcement on national TV on Monday.
"Everyone knew that it would reach a considerable part of the population sooner or later. It was positive for me," he said, referring to the Covid-19 test he took Monday.
Brazil is second only to the United States in terms of coronavirus deaths, with over 65,000 people deaths in Brazil, according to figures released by the country's health ministry on Monday, and approximately 1,623,284 cases have been confirmed so far. Despite this, Bolsonaro has been seen at rallies without a mask and enthusiastically mingling with the crowds. "I have to admit, I thought I had gotten it earlier, considering my very dynamic activity in the face of the people. And I can tell you more, I am the President and I am on the front line, I don't run away from my responsibility nor do I shy away from the people," he said on Tuesday.
"Because of my contact with the people I thought I had contracted it already and not noticed it, like the majority of the Brazilian population that contracts the virus, and doesn't know," he continued.
"On Sunday, I wasn't feeling very well. On Monday, it got worse when I started feeling tired and some muscle pain. I also had a 38-degree [Celsius] fever. Given those symptoms, the presidential doctor said there was suspicion of Covid-19," Bolsonaro said, adding that he then went to hospital where scans of his lungs "came back clean." He has also acknowledged the danger of the disease, which he had previously dismissed as a "little flu."
"We know the fatality of the virus for those of a certain age, like me, above 65, as well as for those with comorbidities, diseases, other issues. In those cases the virus could be decisive and lead to death -- everyone knew that."
Bolsonaro has spoken with CNN Brazil about his treatment plan, which includes hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. While neither have been shown to be effective in fighting the coronavirus, both he and President Donald Trump has touted its virtues. "I am feeling very well. I believe that the way they administered the hydroxychloroquine on, the effect was immediate," he said. Despite the outbreak, he has been pushing for businesses to reopen as far back as March. "Our life has to go on. Jobs should be maintained," Bolsonaro said in the still-early days of the pandemic, during a March 24 speech broadcast on national television and radio. He has maintained that position, arguing that the economic fallout of lockdown could be worse than the virus itself.