Known for brushing aside the urgency and the severity of the novel coronavirus, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, now, has coronavirus. He famously said: “After being stabbed, I’m not going to be brought down by a little flu.”
Mr. Bolsonaro, according to reports, started to notice the symptoms of COVID-19 two days after he attended a 4th of July congregation with a handful of his ministers at Todd Chapman’s residence, who is the American Ambassador to Brazil. Images shared on social media shows the Brazilian statesmen embracing each other, none of them donned face mask.
Brazil, Latin America’s largest city has the highest number of coronavirus caseloads in the world, just below the United States of America. At present, there are more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and more than 65k mortality according to data tracked by Johns Hopkins University.
President Bolsonaro’s announcement came on Tuesday after he started to feel ‘fatigue’ muscle pain’ and ‘fever’ he told the reporters outside the presidential palace of Brazil. He is taking hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, none of which is proven to cure COVID-19.
Bolsonaro said to the reporters that he is the president and emphasized he must be on the frontline of the ‘fight,’ before comparing the virus with ‘rain’ that will get to someone. According to WHO, ‘COVID-19 is often more severe in people who are older than 60 years;’ President Bolsonaro is 65.
WHO executive director Dr. Mike Ryan wished for Bolsonaro’s speedy recovery. “I think it brings home for us all the reality of this virus. No one is special, we are all vulnerable,” he told in a media briefing.
“A measly cold”
Shockingly though, Mr. President did not repent his handling of the pandemic in Brazil, in which he has time and again downplayed the seriousness of the disease, has rallied against social distancing measures, asserted that the virus poses a little risk on healthy people, campaigned unproven remedies, attended rallies of his supporters and shuffled ministers who resisted his means, The New York Times noted.
In fact, according to The New York Times, Mr. Bolsonaro doubled down on the assertion that coronavirus poses a little risk to healthy people while addressing the media after his positive result. At one point in time, he even compared the novel coronavirus that has so far affected millions with “a measly cold.”
The novel coronavirus is a respiratory disease that affects the lungs and the respiratory tract of a healthy individual. The virus primarily spreads via respiratory droplets from the infected patient while sneezing, coughing, and talking. However, recent reports suggest the virus might be airborne as well, which is yet to be officially confirmed.
The New York Times noted, as soon as the president’s COVID-19 status was confirmed Tuesday, two hashtags started to trend on Twitter. One was #ForçaCorona and the other was #ForçaBolsonaro. The second prayed for the president’s recovery while the former expressed hope that he falls ill – reflecting the political disparity in the nation.
Tweet showing a pro-Bolsonaro act, with people praying for the president’s speedy recovery
On May 12, many high profile celebrities, scientists and environmentalists urged Mr. Bolsanaro to take immediate actions to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Amazon’s indigenous tribes, failing to which would mean genocide for the isolated groups thriving in the depths of Amazon rainforests.
Lead by photojournalist Sebastião Salgado, an open letter was sent to the president to ensure army-led taskforce to evict the entry of illegal loggers and gold miners – potential carriers of Covid-19 into the vulnerable tribes.
However, recently, Brazil launched a COVID-19 test drive among the indigenous Yanomami people and distributed face masks, according to reports. No one was found positive.
(Cover image courtesy of Steve Herman via Twitter)