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Bolsonaro says he will attend UN General Assembly despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19

Friday, September 17th 2021 - 09:10 UTC
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The unvaccinated Bolsonaro has vowed to address the issues which are of interest to Brazil The unvaccinated Bolsonaro has vowed to address the issues which are of interest to Brazil

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro Thursday insisted he will attend the UN General Assembly next week in New York despite not having taken a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I will be next week in the UN General Assembly; I will give the opening speech” Tuesday, the president said in his usual transmission on social media.

It will be “a calm speech, quite objective, focused on the points of interest to us,” added Bolsonaro, who highlighted his policies regarding the pandemic together with agribusiness and energy.

The City of New York had ruled that vaccination would be mandatory for ”all persons entering the UN facilities to enter the General Assembly” in a note signed by the head of the New York City Health area, dated Sept. 9. Hours after the announcement, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he cannot impose that requirement on heads of state.

Brazil, with 213 million inhabitants, is the fourth country in the world in the number of vaccines administered (214 million), according to data from Our World in Data. But Bolsonaro has so far refused to get jabbed, insisting he would be “the last” Brazilian to do so.

Bolsonaro, who has had COVID-19 last year, again argued that he is already immunized. “My antibody rate is at the top,” he told the Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga, who recommended the immunizer.

The new chairman of the United Nations General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, also announced Wednesday he would request proof of vaccination from those who attend the UN's most significant event.

“On behalf of the City of New York, we thank President Shahid for taking this vital step,” Mayor Bill de Blasio and International Affairs Commissioner Penny Abeywardena said in a joint statement, which also specified that “New York City next week will open a temporary testing and swab site and vaccination site near UN headquarters and provide free Covid testing as well as Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine.”

“We are proud to join the ongoing efforts to ensure that all General Assembly participants and our citizens are safe during the pandemic,” the document went on.

Also opposing the vaccination mandate was Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, who has reportedly sent a note to Shahid saying he was “very surprised and disappointed.”

“We strongly oppose that only people with proof of vaccination are admitted to the General Assembly hall,” said Nebenzia, who dubbed the measure as “discriminatory” and in “clear violation of the UN charter.”

According to the bylaws passed, delegation members will need to show their vaccination certificate “before eating, drinking or exercising inside the UN campus, and to participate in all the entertainment, gastronomy and fitness activities of New York City.”

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