Jair Bolsonaro has Covid-19. On social media, some wish the right-wing president of Brazil a lot of strength, others the virus.
There is no need to worry, Jair Bolsonaro said. In a bright blue shirt and, exceptionally, with a protective mask, the President of Brazil entered the press on Tuesday morning in the capital city of Brasília: “Life goes on. I thank God for my life and the role given to me to decide the future of this great nation called Brazil”. Shortly before, the right-wing radical had confirmed what many had already suspected: the 65-year-old is infected with the coronavirus. The first rumors of an infection were already circulating on Monday. The media reported that Bolsonaro was suffering from a fever and cough and felt weak. Then on Tuesday the confirmation: According to his own statement, Bolsonaro had been tested positive for Covid-19 in a military hospital.
Bolsonaro also presented a treatment right away and posted a video in the evening in which he swallowed a chloroquine pill. “If I hadn’t taken the drug, I would be worse now and I could infect other people.”
While the ex-military – like Donald Trump in the United States – advertises the malaria drug as a miracle cure for corona, scientific studies question its effectiveness and warn of health risks.
Brazil is badly affected by the corona pandemic: the largest country in Latin America already has the second most infected people worldwide, more than 65,000 deaths and an alarmingly high number of unreported cases, as experts suspect. Many Brazilians share the president’s responsibility for the chaos in the country. He said on Tuesday that the virus had to be taken seriously. But he also said that the risk to young people was “practically zero” and again criticized the quarantine measures that were imposed by many state governments.
Since the pandemic started, Bolsonaro has stubbornly downplayed the virus, which he calls “little flu”. After arguments with the president, two health ministers had to resign during the pandemic. The Interim Minister of Health is a general and has no health policy experience. Just a few days ago, Bolsonaro vetoed a mask requirement imposed by Parliament in closed rooms.
Even more: Bolsonaro has repeatedly ignored the warnings of health experts in the past few weeks, mingled in crowds without a mask and spoke at demonstrations. Three days ago, he met the US ambassador, numerous high-ranking ministers, and his son Eduardo, also an ultra-right-wing politician. Again, nobody was wearing a protective mask. Left-wing politicians now want to check whether Bolsonaro has committed a criminal offense with it.
Many users commented on the president’s infection on social media. Supporters, but also political opponents, sent wishes for recovery. Some critics scoffed and the hashtag #forçacoronavirus (Let’s go corona) was trending on Twitter. But for the opposition, the president’s illness is no reason to celebrate. If the disease is mild, the right will mercilessly exploit it and stage it as confirmation of the “little flu” rhetoric. In the event of a quick recovery, Bolsonaro could try to implement further easing of the isolation measures, critics of the president fear.
At the end of the interview, the president spoke again about his health. He took off his protective mask from Bolsonaro, took a few steps back and confidently declared: “Look at my face. I am fine.”