Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has COVID-19

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly downplayed the severity of the coronavirus outbreak even as it has ravaged his nation, said Tuesday that he has COVID-19.

Confirming his diagnosis to journalists in Brasilia on Tuesday, Bolsonaro said that he was suffering muscle aches, fatigue and a fever but otherwise felt “normal.”

“I even want to take a walk around here, but I can’t due to medical recommendations,” said Bolsonaro, who said he was taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug praised by President Trump that has not proved to be an effective treatment for the coronavirus.

Like Trump, who Bolsonaro is frequently compared to because they embrace a similar brand of populist politics, the Brazilian president has been a vocal skeptic of the dangers of pandemic as well as social distancing efforts to slow its spread.

He has dismissed COVID-19 as “a little flu” and has criticized media coverage of the pandemic as “hysteria.” He was recently warned by a judge that he may have to pay a $400 fine for appearing in public without a face mask. Twitter has deleted multiple Bolsonaro tweets that it said spread misinformation about the disease.

Bolsonaro has clashed with governors of the country’s most populous states, saying lockdowns enacted in those regions will do more harm than allowing the virus to run its natural course.

In April, he fired Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who had defended quarantine measures and criticized Bolsonaro’s lackadaisical response. Four weeks later, Mandetta’s replacement, Nelson Teich, resigned.

More than 65,000 Brazilians have died from COVID-19 — the second highest death toll in the world after the United States. An additional 1.6 million people have tested positive for the virus in Brazil.

Even as infections and deaths have mounted, Bolsonaro has continued to hold large public events where he mingles with supporters, often without a mask.

Over the weekend, Bolsonaro was photographed with his arm around the U.S. ambassador to Brazil at a July 4 celebration. Neither of them were wearing a mask.

The U.S. Embassy said on Twitter on Monday that Ambassador Todd Chapman was not showing any symptoms but would be tested.

After Bolsonaro met with Trump in Florida in March, several members of the Brazilian delegation tested positive for the virus. Bolsonaro tested negative three times.

Polls show a majority of Brazilians believe Bolsonaro is impeding the fight against the virus.

That displeasure sounds in the streets of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, where every evening many residents lean out their windows to bang pots in a noisy protest against the president.