Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro tests positive for COVID-19, takes HCQ

Bolsonaro infamously called COVID-19 a "little flu"

Jair-Bolsonaro-mask-covid19-Reuters FILE PHOTO: Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro wearing a protective face mask | REUTERS/Adriano Machado/File Photo

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive for the novel coronavirus after taking his fourth test for the virus. Bolsonaro made the announcement in a TV interview, saying he had a high temperature, a cough, and that he felt unwell.

Since he his above the age of 65, Bolsonaro is in the high-risk group for COVID-19. He said that he had started taken hydroxychloroquine—though the drug’s efficacy against COVID-19 remains contested, with the United States revoking emergency use of it and the WHO discontinuing trials of it.

Throughout the pandemic, the Brazilian President had constantly downplayed the risk that the virus posed, infamously calling it a “little flu”. As early as Monday, he had diluted mask-wearing regulations, besides having earlier urged regional governors to ease lockdowns.

With over 1.6 million cases and 66,093 deaths, Brazil is the second worst-affected nation in the world by the virus, after the United States. Cases continue to grow with the number of new daily cases well over 26,000 on Tuesday.

The Latin American and Caribbean regions account for half of the COVID-19 cases in the Americas.

WHO Director-General Adhanon Ghebreyeus on Tuesday said that the “whole of Latin America” does not look good, as both cases and deaths are on the rise.

The situation in Brazil is grim, prompting the governor of Sao Paulo state, Joao Doria, to announce that an as-yet-unproven coronavirus vaccine developed by Chinese firm Sinovac would be tested in the country by 12 research centres in six states, with a total of 9,000 volunteers.