Infamous coronavirus skeptic Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, triumphantly declared on Saturday that he had recovered from covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. To celebrate, Bolsonaro posted a photo of himself doing a thumbs-up with hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug he has promoted nonstop as a treatment for the disease, despite the growing scientific evidence that it is not effective and could be potentially dangerous for covid-19 patients.
According to the New York Times, shortly after announcing his negative result, Bolsonaro left the presidential residence in Brazil on a motorcycle with his security aides. He also posed for photos with his supporters before going to a motorcycle shop. Reuters reports that the president will begin traveling around the country—which has reported more than 2.3 million cases, the second-worst outbreak in the world after the U.S.—after recovering from his illness.
Bolsonaro was tested for the virus after experiencing fatigue, muscle pain and fever at the beginning of July. When he announced that he had tested positive, Bolsonsaro said he was feeling “very well” because he had taken hydroxychloroquine, a drug that was called a “game changer” by President Donald Trump, who also took it at one point.
The Brazilian president said testing positive for the virus was predictable, according to the Times, because his leadership style requires him to be among the people. Bolsonaro didn’t mention the fact that he has often refused to wear a mask—he vetoed the obligatory use of masks and private settings, but approved their use on the street and on public transport—and attended mass rallies of his supporters.
“I am the president, I have to be on the front lines of the fight,” he said, per the Times. Bolsonaro also compared the virus to “rain, which is going to get to you.”
Bolsonaro has been criticized for his handling of the pandemic in Brazil. Like Trump, Bolsonaro has repeatedly downplayed the seriousness of virus, calling it a “measly cold” and saying that he couldn’t do anything about the rising death toll. He has also opposed lockdowns and pushed for businesses to reopen despite the worsening outbreak.
A group representing Brazilian journalists is currently suing Bolsonaro for taking his mask off while he spoke to them when he announced his positive covid-19 diagnosis. It is extremely important for people who are sick with covid-19 to wear a face mask and stay away from others because it helps prevent them from spreading the virus.
“Despite knowing he was infected with covid-19, President Jair Bolsonaro continues to act in a criminal manner and endanger the lives of others,” said Paulo Jeronimo de Sousa, president of the Brazilian Press Association, in a statement.
The Brazilian Press Association argues that Bolsonaro broke the law, which prohibits transmitting a serious disease to others as well as exposing the life of health of others to direct and imminent danger.
While it’s good news that the president recovered, it’s worrying that he will use his experience with covid-19 as living proof that the virus is nothing to worry about. Considering that we reached more than 16 million confirmed cases worldwide this weekend, that’s the last thing Brazil, or anyone, needs.