Brazilian media reported on Thursday that President Jair Bolsonaro is being tested for coronavirus infection, while his communications secretary Fabio Wajngarten has tested positive and is awaiting confirmation that he has the disease.
Bolsonaro and Wajngarten both met with U.S. President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, last week.
Fabio Wajngarten, the press secretary for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources tell CNN. He was at dinner with Trump at Mar-a-Lago Saturday night, took a photo with him and later attended Kimberly Guilfoyle’s birthday party.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) March 12, 2020
Wajngarten was photographed standing close to Trump and Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to Mar-a-Lago on Saturday, while Bolsonaro shook hands with Trump.
Brazil's press minister Fabio Wajngarten (on the right) has tested positive for Coronavirus. He’s pictured next to Donald trump at Mar a Lago on Saturday #Brazil #Coronavirus pic.twitter.com/oB2jKDVKiL
— CNW (@ConflictsW) March 12, 2020
According to a Brazilian newspaper called O Estado de S. Paulo, Wajngarten tested positive for the coronavirus but is waiting for the results of a second test to confirm the results. Wajngarten was complaining of flu-like symptoms when he was tested at a military hospital. CNN quoted sources who confirmed the report and said Bolsonaro is being monitored for signs of infection and will be tested for the coronavirus.
Bolsonaro’s health is a matter of special concern because he has undergone several surgical procedures to his abdominal region after being stabbed by a socialist would-be assassin in September 2018. He was required to use a colostomy bag until January 2019.
The assassin, a left-wing activist named Adelio Bispo de Oliverira, was acquitted of murder charges in June on the grounds of insanity but was detained indefinitely for treatment.
“It’s the age. I’m 64, there were four operations in which they opened up the whole abdomen. Twice, they took out everything. It was extremely serious,” he told reporters in January.
Bolsonaro said at an event in Miami on Tuesday that he believes the coronavirus threat has been “overstated” and possibly “exaggerated for political reasons.”
“During the past year, obviously, we have had moments of crisis. A lot of that is fantasy. And coronavirus, which is not all the mainstream media makes it out to be,” he said.
“Let’s put it this way: I’m not concerned,” President Trump said on Thursday when asked about the risk of coronavirus exposure from Bolsonaro and Wajngarten.
CNBC quoted Trump’s remarks in full:
“I did hear something about that,” Trump told reporters Thursday, when asked about the matter. “We had dinner together in Florida at Mar-a-Lago with the entire delegation. I don’t know, if the press [said he was there, then] he was there.” Mar-a-Lago is Trump’s Florida resort.
Trump appeared to shift his focus to Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, as he continued his response.
“But we did nothing very unusual. We sat next to each other for a period of time, had a great conversation. He’s doing a terrific job in Brazil, and we’ll find out what happens. I guess they’re being tested right now?” Trump said.
Speaking during a meeting with visiting Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, Trump remarked that it was a “very strange feeling” not to shake hands with people anymore.