Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro tests positive for coronavirus

He has repeatedly played down the impact of the virus, even as Brazil has suffered one of the world's worst outbreaks

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro wears a face mask during a press conference. He has since tested positive for the virus. AFP
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro wears a face mask during a press conference. He has since tested positive for the virus. AFP

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive for the coronavirus but said he was feeling "perfectly well" and had only mild symptoms.

The far-right leader has caused huge controversy in Brazil for repeatedly flouting containment measures and minimising the risk of the virus, which has killed 65,000 people in the South American giant and infected 1.6 million.

In the interview broadcast on state-run TV Brasil, Mr Bolsonaro said he began feeling ill on Sunday and has been taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug with unproven effectiveness against Covid-19.

The Pan American Health Organization said it wishes Mr Bolsonaro a speedy recovery but warned that his positive Covid-19 test shows the virus not under control and that stronger social distancing is needed to bring the number of cases down.

After undergoing the test on Monday, the Brazilian leader told media his lungs were "clean" after reports in local media that he had symptoms associated with Covid-19. CNN Brasil and newspaper Estado de S.Paulo reported that he had a fever and other indicators of the infection.

Mr Bolsonaro has repeatedly played down the impact of the virus, even as Brazil has suffered one of the world's worst outbreaks.

Following his test on Monday, he greeted supporters.

"I can't get very close," he told Foco do Brasil, a pro-government YouTube channel. "I came from the hospital. I underwent a lung scan. The lung's clean."

The president's office said the president was at his home and is "in good health."

The right-wing populist has often defied local guidelines to wear a mask in public, even after a judge ordered him to do so in late June.

At the weekend, Mr Bolsonaro attended several events and was in close contact with the US ambassador to Brazil Todd Chapman during July 4 celebrations.

The US embassy in Brasilia said via Twitter that Mr Chapman had lunch with Mr Bolsonaro, five ministers and Mr Bolsonaro's son, Eduardo, who is a federal congressman. The ambassador has no symptoms, but will undergo testing and is "taking precautions," the embassy said.

In March, Mr Bolsonaro tested negative for the coronavirus after several aides were found with the disease following a visit to US President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate.

Mr Bolsonaro's official events on Tuesday have been cancelled, according to CNN Brasil.

Updated: July 7, 2020 09:00 PM

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