Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for Covid-19 in an escalation of the health crisis that has engulfed Latin America’s largest economy.
“I’m perfectly well,” Bolsonaro told CNN Brasil in a live interview, after announcing the result of his test. He added he is taking hydroxichloroquine, an anti-malaria medicine he’s been touting as being effective against the virus though its use hasn’t been authorized by most health experts globally and could carry dangerous side effects.
The 65-year-old president, who during his campaign to reopen the economy called the virus “just a little flu,” has repeatedly disobeyed medical recommendations to avoid contamination, mingling in crowds without a face mask and giving people handshakes.
Late on Monday, however, a video posted on YouTube showed a masked Bolsonaro trying not to get too close to supporters who awaited him in front of the presidential palace. He told them he was following social distancing orders from a doctor after showing symptoms of the virus, and added thatan exam had shown his lungs were “clean.”
Brazil has become a global hotspot for the virus, trailing only the U.S. with more than 65,000 confirmed deaths and over 1.62 million total cases. It has implemented an erratic response to the pandemic, with the president often clashing with state governors and even his health minister over quarantine measures and possible treatments. Brazil’s health ministry is cur