Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has so far escaped coronavirus contagion but his national security advisor, his mines and energy minister plus the Senate chief haven't been so lucky.
National Security Minister Augusto Heleno, said on Wednesday he had tested positive for the new coronavirus. The retired army general, whose job includes running the intelligence services, is the latest in a string of Brazilian officials to be diagnosed with COVID-19 following a presidential trip to the United States during which they met President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
Sixteen people who accompanied Bolsonaro on the trip have now tested positive for the virus, including his communications chief, a senator and Brazil's top diplomat to the United States.
The result of my second test... came back positive. I am awaiting the results of a follow-up test, Heleno, the former head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti, wrote on Twitter.
I do not have a fever or any other symptom associated with COVID-19. I am in isolation at home and will not answer phone calls, added the 72-year-old minister.
Bolsonaro has tested negative for the virus, as has Trump, the far-right leader's political role-model.
The Brazilian leader has repeatedly condemned what he calls the hysteria surrounding the virus, and shook hands and took selfies with supporters at a rally Sunday, ignoring his own health ministry's advice to isolate himself because of his contact with infected officials.
He said Tuesday his second test for COVID-19 had also come back negative. Under Brazilian health ministry protocol, he is supposed to take a final test in one week's time and remain in isolation until then. But he has shown no indication he plans to follow the recommendation, saying he will throw himself a 65th birthday party Saturday.
However despite all the bragging, on Wednesday also a second cabinet member, Mines and Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque, 61, tested positive for coronavirus.
Likewise, Davi Alcolumbre, 41, the head of Brazil's Senate, and a key element in helping pass Bolsonaro's labor, pension and fiscal reforms became the latest high-level political figure to test positive for coronavirus, his office said in a statement.
Alcolumbre is without severe symptoms, but feels a little sick and is in quarantine at home, the statement said. An initial test had come back negative, but a secondary one was positive, the statement added.
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