Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro Tests Positive for the Coronavirus

President Bolsonaro in March. Photo: Andre Coelho/Getty Images

The president of Brazil has tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Everyone knew that it would reach a considerable part of the population sooner or later. It was positive for me,” a mask-clad Jair Bolsonaro announced on live television on Tuesday. The 65-year-old took a test Monday night after developing a fever and a persistent cough.

At one point during his announcement, Bolsonaro took off his mask and told reporters, “Just look at my face: I’m fine.”

The far-right leader has long been criticized for downplaying the seriousness of the pandemic. Back in March, he blamed media “hysteria” for exaggerating the risk of what he called a “little flu.” He also criticized local leaders for imposing lockdowns, claiming the crisis was an orchestrated attempt to harm his political reputation.

Since the start of the pandemic, Brazil has had more than 1.6 million people test positive for the coronavirus and more than 65,000 deaths. Both of those figures are second only to the U.S. Like his ally in the White House, Bolsonaro has emphasized keeping the economy open and maintaining jobs during the outbreak. In April, he fired his health minister after repeatedly clashing over differences in response to the pandemic.

Bolsonaro joins the U.K.’s Boris Johnson on the short list of major world leaders who have tested positive for the coronavirus. He has previously suggested that if he were to contract it, he would be able to easily fight it off. “Due to my athlete’s history, if I were infected with the virus, I would not need to worry,” Bolsonaro said in March. “I would feel nothing or would be, at best, a cold.”

Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro Tests Positive for the Coronavirus