Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday announced that he has tested negative for the coronavirus, contradicting earlier reports — including from his son — that he’d tested positive.
Posts on his official Facebook and Twitter accounts said that “The Armed Forces Hospital and (diagnostic laboratory) Sabin have returned a negative test result for COVID-19,” the official name of the disease. Bolsonaro included a photo of himself flexing.
The Brazilian leader, who is 64, was tested for the coronavirus earlier this week after his top aide, press secretary Fábio Wajngarten, tested positive for the virus. That result came after Bolsonaro, and Wajngarten, had visited with President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend, which means the US president could also been exposed to the virus.
Rumours circulated on Thursday that Bolsonaro had also tested positive, though Brazilian officials denied the reports, and Bolsonaro later said publicly, wearing a face mask, that he was awaiting test results.
But the cycle repeated itself on Friday, this time in Brazilian media. O Dia, a major Brazilian newspaper, reported Friday morning that a preliminary test had shown Bolsonaro had tested positive, citing sources in the far-right leader’s administration. Fox News confirmed that with Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo, but added that the Brazilian president would undergo a second test to confirm the diagnosis.
But just about an hour or so later, Bolsonaro himself said publicly that he had tested negative. A few minutes after that, he tweeted, “NÃO ACREDITE NA MÍDIA FAKE NEWS!“ which basically means “Don’t believe the fake news media,” if that sounds familiar at all.
Bolsonaro’s son has since denied that he ever said his father initially tested positive. “I don’t have this information,” Eduardo Bolsonaro told Fox News around the same time as his father’s announcement. “The information I have is the results that just came up telling that he is negative for coronavirus. I never listened that it was positive in the first exam. This is something that I don’t know. But, uh, everything’s good now.”
– HFA/SABIN atestam negativo para o COVID-19 o Sr. Pres. da República Jair Bolsonaro. pic.twitter.com/iL3YPGPGXA
— Jair M. Bolsonaro (@jairbolsonaro) March 13, 2020
So the official word from Brazil is that Bolsonaro does not have the coronavirus. But the situation is pretty troublesome, as it raises questions about whether the Brazilian government, including its top leader, is being completely forthright — particularly when it comes to how he’s communicating about the pandemic to Brazilians and the rest of the world, VOX reported.