Brazil’s President Bolsonaro with COVID-19, takes hydroxychloroquine

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro unveiled on Tuesday he has tested positive for COVID-19 as earlier he believed the virus was only a “little flu”. Bolsonaro, wearing a mask, told reporters in capital Brasilia that he is already taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial unproven to effectively treat COVID-19.

“I’m well, normal. I even want to take a walk around here, but I can’t due to medical recommendations,” Bolsonaro said.

The 65-year-old populist has often appeared in public to shake hands with supporters and mingle with crowds, at times without a mask. He has said that his history as an athlete would protect him. He also repeatedly said that there is no way to prevent 70% of the population falling ill with COVID-19, and that local authorities’ measures to shut down economic activity would ultimately cause more hardship than allowing the virus to run its course. Bolsonaro on Tuesday repeated those sentiments, comparing the virus to a rain that will fall on most people, and that some, like the elderly, must take greater care.

Brazil, the world’s sixth most populous nation, with more than 210 million people, is one of the global hot spots of the pandemic. More than 65,000 Brazilians have so far died from COVID-19 and more than 1,500,000 have been infected. Both numbers are the world’s second-highest totals, and are considered to be undercounts to the lack of widespread testing.

The president underwent an X-ray of his lungs on Monday after experiencing fever, muscle aches and malaise, he told reporters. As of Tuesday, his fever had subsided, he said, and attributed the improvement to hydroxychloroquine, which he has long promoted despite growing medical consensus it does not work against COVID-19.

Bolsonaro tested negative three times in March after meeting with the US President Donald Trump in Florida. Multiple members of his delegation to the US were later reported to be infected with the virus.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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