Brazil is one of the world’s biggest COVID-19 hotspots. Now, the man in charge of the country has tested positive. President Jair Bolsonaro, who has minimized the threat of the coronavirus since the pandemic was made official in March, told reporters Tuesday that he has been infected.
According to CNBC, the 65-year-old Bolsonaro took the coronavirus test on Monday, and afterward, he said “everything was fine” and claimed his lungs were “clean.” But Brazilian officials also said the president had been running a fever of 100.4 degrees and that he hadn’t been feeling well.
In the past, Bolsonaro has dismissed the threat of COVID_19, calling it a “little flu” and blasting the country’s governors who imposed lockdowns. He also said social distancing was unnecessary, and he advised his constituents to live their lives like normal.
Now, Bolsonaro has become a part of the statistics.
As the Washington Post notes, Bolsonaro “repeatedly waded into crowds of supporters, threatened to host a large barbecue to spite health measures, and as recently as last week attended a Fourth of July party at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia without wearing a mask. A Brazilian court last month ordered Bolsonaro to wear a mask while in public.”
U.S. Ambassador Todd Chapman, who was with the president at the Fourth of July soirée, said he would also be tested.
Experts have compared the coronavirus responses of Bolsonaro and U.S. President Donald Trump and found them to be similar.
“Both were incredibly slow to recognize the outbreak and to listen to experts who were calling for immediate action,” Steven Levitsky, a Harvard professor, told USA Today in June.
According to the Johns Hopkins statistics, Brazil is second in the world in coronavirus cases, behind only the U.S., with 1.62 million. More than 65,000 Brazilians have died, though the Washington Post said it’s believed that the country’s stats have been undercounted.