Bolsonaro Takes New Covid Test After Attending July 4 Lunch Without Mask


RIO DE JANEIRO — President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil said Monday night that he went to the hospital for a lung scan and would take a new test for the novel coronavirus.

He took those steps after developing symptoms of the virus, including a fever, according to a report in Portuguese from CNN Brasil.

Even as several of Mr. Bolsonaro’s aides have tested positive for the virus in recent months, the president has often eschewed precautions such as mask wearing and social distancing. Most recently, he attended a luncheon on Saturday hosted by the American ambassador in Brazil to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday.

A photo taken during the lunch and posted on Twitter by Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo shows the president sitting next to the United States Ambassador to Brazil, Todd Chapman, giving a thumbs-up sign at a table decorated for the holiday. Neither was wearing a mask.

The president’s office and the foreign ministry did not immediately respond to emails about the president’s health.

While he awaits the test results, Mr. Bolsonaro cleared his schedule on Tuesday, according to several Brazilian press reports.

When he returned to the presidential palace on Monday evening, Mr. Bolsonaro told a group of supporters that his lung scan looked “clean” and that “everything was OK.”

CNN reported that Mr. Bolsonaro, 65, had a fever above 100 degrees and had begun taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria pill he has promoted as effective to treat the virus. The report attributed that information to the president himself.

Mr. Bolsonaro has come under criticism for his cavalier handling of the pandemic, even as Brazil’s caseload and death toll ballooned in recent months.

Brazil’s more than 1.6 million cases and more than 65,000 deaths make it the second hardest-hit country by the pandemic, trailing only the United States.

Even so, Mr. Bolsonaro has called the quarantines imposed by Brazilian states unjustifiably damaging to the economy. And he has often ventured out in public without wearing a mask, in violation of a mandatory rule in the capital.

A federal judge last month issued an order calling on the president to wear a mask in public. Since then, the president has more consistently worn a mask when he is outdoors.

Several cabinet members joined Mr. Bolsonaro at the Fourth of July celebration at the American ambassador’s residence.

Traditionally, the embassy has thrown a large party to mark the American holiday. Instead, this year, Mr. Chapman hosted the president and a small delegation.

The embassy did not immediately respond to questions about what precautions, if any, were taken to protect attendees at the luncheon.

Several senior officials in the Bolsonaro administration tested positive for the coronavirus after returning from a trip to Florida in early March, where Mr. Bolsonaro dined with President Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

Since then, Mr. Bolsonaro has taken several coronavirus tests, and asserted that all came back negative.

Still, he has suggested that contracting the virus would not pose a serious threat because he has “an athlete’s background.”



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