Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, he said in a television interview, adding that he was in good health despite running a fever.
The right-wing populist, who has played down the severity of the virus which he has called a “little flu,” took the test on Monday after developing symptoms.
In the interview broadcast on state-run TV Brasil, Bolsonaro said he began feeling ill on Sunday and has been taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug with unproven effectiveness against COVID-19.
Bolsonaro has repeatedly defied local guidelines to wear a mask in public, even after a judge ordered him to do so in late June. Bolsonaro has also railed against social distancing rules supported by the World Health Organization.
Over the weekend, Bolsonaro attended several events and was in close contact with US Ambassador Todd Chapman during July 4 celebrations. Pictures showed neither wearing a mask.
The US embassy in Brasilia said via Twitter on Monday that the ambassador had lunch on July 4 with Bolsonaro, five ministers and the president’s son, Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro. The ambassador had no symptoms, but would undergo testing and is “taking precautions,” the embassy said.
On June 23, a federal judge in Brazil ordered Bolsonaro to wear a face mask in public, after the far-right leader repeatedly flouted the coronavirus containment measures in place in Brasilia.
The case was brought by a lawyer who said the president should be held to account for his “irresponsible behavior.”
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Masks have been mandatory in public in Brasilia since April to curb the spread of the virus.
Bolsonaro former education minister Abraham Weintraub was fined 2,000 reals last week for attending a pro-Bolsonaro rally in Brasilia without a mask.
Brazil has the world’s second-largest outbreak behind the United States. Latin America’s largest country has more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and 65,000 COVID-19 deaths.