Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro tests positive for COVID-19 amid a rapid increase in the number of cases in his own country.
After being tested thrice for the virus earlier, he tested positive on his fourth time after having developed symptoms like high fever, muscle ache, and malaise.
It is important to note that Bolsonaro has constantly downplayed the effects of COVID-19 in his country, even going as far as calling it the “little flu”. Despite Brazil being the second worst-hit country after the chart-topping USA, with more than 16 lakh having been confirmed to have contracted the virus while over 65,000 have succumbed to it, Bolsonaro insists on downplaying its severity and says he will not be seriously affected.
What did Bolsonaro say?
In a press conference held in the capital, Brasilia, which was being broadcasted live, he made a statement, while wearing a mask, that he had tested positive for the virus. He stated he had been experiencing symptoms since Sunday. He had a high temperature and felt unwell on Monday, prompting him to take the test. He also went on to say that the symptoms that he had been experiencing have gone down and he felt “very well”.
“I’m well, normal. I even want to take a walk around here, but I can’t due to medical recommendations.”
Being 65 years of age, he belongs to a higher-risk group. Informing the media he was taking hydroxychloroquine-also championed by the US President Trump-and azithromycin, an antibiotic he said, “ Today I’m a lot better, so certainly it’s working.”
Later on Tuesday, he even posted a video on Facebook showing him taking his third dose of hydroxychloroquine. Reports and trials have shown that the drug does not work against coronavirus, despite being promoted by world leaders like Bolsonaro and Trump.
Many global leaders who have endured encounters with COVID-19 include Prince Charles of Wales, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Prince Albert II of Monaco, and President Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras.
What does Modi say?
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Modi took to Twitter to wish his “dear friend” a speedy recovery from the virus in Portuguese. In a subtweet, he posted his well-wishes in English, as well. Both the leaders have appeared in various articles, clubbing them together as fascist leaders.
Meu amigo Presidente @jairbolsonaro, minhas orações e melhores votos por sua rápida recuperação.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 8, 2020
Both countries share cordial ties, a reality reinforced by the friendly relationship between Prime Minister Modi and the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro. Earlier this year, Modi himself extended an invite to Bolsonaro to be the Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations.
Keeping up normality
Bolsonaro has tried to keep a sense of normality in his schedule, with the only two adjustments being the cancellation of a trip to Brazil’s interior places and the physical meetings have been changed to virtual ones.
In general, Bolsonaro declined to wear a mask publicly and even challenged a tribunal over an injunction requiring him to do so, persisting on maintaining physical meetings with his advisors as well as the inner circle. The president has dealt with upwards of twice a dozen high-level government politicians and officials within the last week, as per details compiled by Bloomberg of Bolsonaro’s latest agenda.
Bolsonaro has long denied the severity of the virus and even refused to impose regional lockdowns, citing their adverse effects on the economy. After having brushed off the virus as a “little flu”, on multiple occasions, the irony isn’t lost now that he too has been infected by the virus. Many of his detractors have weighed in, calling it KARMA, and that he, no less, invited this fate upon himself. Though, what remains to be seen is if the virus hitting home will make him change tactics, or will he continue downplaying the virus in his crisis-hit country?