BRASÍLIA, Brazil – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said Friday, March 13, he had tested negative for the new coronavirus, after a scare over a trip on which at least one infected member of his staff rubbed shoulders with Donald Trump.
“The Armed Forces Hospital and (diagnostic laboratory) Sabin have returned a negative test result for COVID-19 for the President of the Republic Jair Bolsonaro,” said a post on the far-right leader’s Facebook page.
It was accompanied by a picture of Bolsonaro flashing an obscene arm gesture at the press.
“Don’t believe in the fake news media!” he wrote.
Media reports said earlier that Bolsonaro had tested positive for coronavirus and was awaiting the results of a second test to confirm.
Bolsonaro, who had previously called coronavirus fears “overblown,” was left in a delicate position Thursday, March 12, by news that his communications chief, Fabio Wajngarten, had tested positive for COVID-19.
The test result came after a trip to the United States during which both Bolsonaro and Wajngarten met Saturday, March 7, with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and a slate of other top US officials.
Wearing a face mask, Bolsonaro said in a video address Thursday night that he would know “in the next few hours” whether or not he was infected with the virus that has caused a global pandemic.
He canceled a scheduled trip to northeastern Brazil on Thursday and had no events on his agenda Friday.
He took his test result as a personal victory.
The image he chose to accompany his Facebook post neatly summed up the provocative persona of a president, who has been dubbed the “Tropical Trump.”
Bolsonaro, a former army captain who is openly nostalgic for Brazil’s military dictatorship (1964-1985), has repeatedly made the arm gesture – widely known as an “F-U,” “Italian salute,” “Iberian slap,” “bras d’honneur” or, in Brazil, “banana” – at journalists, accusing the media of being biased against him. – Rappler.com