Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday sent best wishes to his friend, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, on social media and prayed for his speedy recovery from the coronavirus infection.
“My friend President @jairbolsonaro, my prayers and best wishes for your speedy recovery,” the Prime Minister said in a tweet, which he also reposted in Portuguese.
Following months of downplaying the severity of the virus and calling it to be a “little flu”, Bolsonaro himself announced he has contracted the infection on Brazilian TV channels on Tuesday.
My friend President @jairbolsonaro, my prayers and best wishes for your speedy recovery.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 8, 2020
“Everyone knew that it would reach a considerable part of the population sooner or later. It was positive for me,” he said, referring to the COVID-19 test he took on Monday.
“On Sunday, I wasn’t feeling very well. On Monday, it got worse when I started feeling tired and some muscle pain. I also had a 38-degree [Celsius] fever. Given those symptoms, the presidential doctor said there was suspicion of COVID-19,” Bolsonaro said, adding that he then went to the hospital to receive a lung scan.
He said that his wife, First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro was also tested.
In an interview with CNN Brasil following his diagnosis, Bolsonaro said he would steer clear of in-person meetings in the near future. “I’m not going to see anyone for meetings. Everything will be done via video conference and I will rarely meet people if I need to deal with the more reserved matter,” he said.
Bolsonaro previously reassured supporters on Monday that his lungs were “clean,” after being tested. Wearing a mask, he warned them to not get near him.
Bolsonaro has previously tested negative for coronavirus in at least three separate examinations. Those tests were administered between March 12 and March 17, after Bolsonaro returned from a bilateral meeting with US President Donald Trump in Florida and many in his entourage tested positive.
This week’s positive result comes just days after he attended a July 4th commemoration event with the US Ambassador to Brazil, Todd Chapman. According to a photo posted to the President’s official Facebook page, Bolsonaro was at the Ambassador’s residence with Chapman for the event. Images from the gathering show Bolsonaro not wearing a mask or observing social distancing.
Brazil is second only to the United States in numbers of coronavirus infections and deaths. But Bolsonaro has often appeared in public and at rallies without a face mask, even hugging supporters. The right-wing populist has long maintained that lockdowns will hurt the country more than the virus itself.
More than 65,000 people have now died of the virus in Brazil, according to figures released by the country’s health ministry on Monday. So far, 1,623,284 cases have been confirmed. With coronavirus tests hard to come by in the country, some local experts say the real number of people infected could be 12 to 16 times higher.
However, despite his diagnosis, Bolsonaro on Tuesday emphasised that his priority is still to restart Brazil’s lagging economy. “The fact that I am infected shows that I am a human being like any other,” he was quoted as saying.