Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro insisted on Thursday he may have already been infected with the Chinese coronavirus and may take another test for the disease, despite the fact he has already repeatedly tested negative.
O Globo reported that, in a Facebook live event on Thursday, the 65-year-old conservative said he thinks he has “already had it” and pledged to take another antibodies test to see if he had contracted the virus.
“I can take a test to see if I have antibodies,” he said, referring to the test that finds proof that the body has already confronted, and defeated, the virus.
Previous tests have determined that he was not carrying the virus, amid false reports that he had contracted it following a trip to the United States to meet President Donald Trump. Reports indicate that his prior tests were for the virus itself, however, not for the antibodies.
Bolsonaro has repeatedly expressed skepticism since the onset of the pandemic, saying early in the pandemic that the disease was a “little flu” and that it is more important to protect the country’s economy and people’s livelihoods.
On Tuesday, a Brazilian judge ordered that Bolsonaro wear a mask when out in public spaces after he was repeatedly filmed greeting supporters without any protective equipment. The case was brought by a human rights lawyer and Bolsonaro opponent who felt the president should be held accountable for his “irresponsible behavior.”
“The president is constitutionally obliged to follow the country’s existing laws, as well as promote the wellbeing of the population, which means taking the necessary measures to … prevent the propagation of a virus that is spreading rapidly and often silently,” said Judge Renato Coelho Borelli in his ruling.
Brazil is — according to official government records, including questionable ones from rogue states like China and Russia — the most severely affected country in the world by the coronavirus except for the United States. Brazil has documented 1,244,419 cases and over 55,000 deaths as a result of the outbreak. Such figures must, however, always be considered relative to Brazil’s population, which stands at nearly 210 million people.
Bolsonaro joined the United States this month in threatening to withdraw from the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), citing the U.N. agency’s alleged role in helping China cover up the severity of the virus in the early stages of the pandemic.
“The United States will leave the W.H.O. and we are studying, in the future, either the W.H.O. does its work without “ideological bias, or we go that way, too,” he said at the time. “We don’t need anybody from abroad to advise on health in here.”