Bolsonaro, 65, announced to local media on Tuesday morning that he had contracted the virus that has raged across the country for months.
“Everyone knew that it would reach a considerable part of the population sooner or later. It was positive for me,” he said, referring to the test he took the previous day.
At his age, Bolsonaro is in the demographic that is likely to suffer complications from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by SARS-CoV-2 and is colloquially being referred to as the “novel coronavirus.” The disease is most deadly in the elderly and in people with underlying health conditions, though younger and healthier people have also been ravaged by the disease.
Bolsonaro, for his part, brushed off concerns about his health. On Monday, Brazilian media reported that he had a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit; fever is a sign of coronavirus infection.
“I’ve done a lung screening, my lung is clean, OK? I went to do a COVID exam a while ago, but everything is okay,” he said.
He also noted that he’s being treated with a combination of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin. Hydroxychloroquine had shown some early promise in the fight against COVID-19. However, multiple tests involving the drug have shown that it provides no benefit, and in some cases, the tests were scrapped out of concern for the well-being of test subjects.
He also has taken up wearing a mask and warned supporters not to get too close to him.
“You can’t get very close [to me], OK? Recommendation for everyone,” he said.
Ever since the coronavirus pandemic began, Bolsonaro has reportedly ignored it, calling it nothing more than a “little flu.” Has previously appeared in public without a mask and even hugged supporters.
Meanwhile, Brazil has the second-highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths, after the United States. In fact, the situation may be considerably worse in Brazil than what is being reported, as testing is rare in the country.
As recently as July 4, Bolsonaro had been in close contact with Americans. Specifically, U.S. ambassador to Brazil, Todd Chapman, appeared at an event at Bolsonaro’s ranch. Neither man wore a mask. Also at the event, Bolsonaro posed for pictures with several U.S. and Brazilian officials, none of whom were wearing masks.
As of this writing, it remains unclear if Chapman, or any members of his staff, have been tested for COVID-19 following Bolsonaro’s diagnosis.