By JACK ARNHOLZ, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s 65-year-old president who has consistently minimized the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak, announced Tuesday that he tested positive for coronavirus.
Appearing on live television, the far-right president said he took a coronavirus test Monday after developing symptoms, including a high temperature.
Bolsonaro said in the announcement that while he feels better than he did the day before and wants to take a walk, he is respecting doctors’ recommendations. He also confirmed he is taking hydroxychloroquine, which President Donald Trump has also touted as a treatment for COVID-19.
Brazil’s leader has been criticized at home and abroad for his lax response to the coronavirus pandemic, dismissing it as a “little cold” at the onset of the crisis.
In late June, a federal judge ordered the president of South America’s largest country to wear a face covering while in public or receive a fine of nearly $400 a day. The decision came after the president repeatedly appeared in public without a mask.
Despite the court order, Bolsonaro has since attended several public events without a mask, appearing at a July 4th celebration at the American Embassy without a face covering this weekend.
Na Embaixada dos EUA, celebrando o 4 de julho, dia da independência americana. pic.twitter.com/CqtgUNxiSL
— Ernesto Araújo (@ernestofaraujo) July 4, 2020
With coronavirus-related deaths topping 65,000 in Brazil, Bolsonaro has lost many high-profiles supporters and has faced governmental resignations since the outbreak worsened in the country.
The president fired one of the health ministers for supporting restrictions imposed by regional governors, as Bolsonaro publicly undermined them and rallied his supporters to disobey them.
A second health minister resigned after openly disagreeing with Bolsonaro over chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug related to hydroxychloroquine.
As of Tuesday, Brazil has over 1.6 million coronavirus cases, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
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