Bolivia's Vice President David Choquehuanca and six members of the cabinet have tested positive for COVID-19, it was announced Tuesday.
We communicate to the Bolivian people that the vice president and the ministers of Foreign Affairs, Interior, Defense, Development Planning, Justice and Public Education received a positive diagnosis of Covid-19, a statement from the presidential office read.
The document added that those infected were in isolation and in good health, while attending to their usual businesses through teleworking.
Meanwhile, Bolivia's Episcopal Conference announced that the only Bolivian cardinal, Toribio Porco Ticona, aged 84 years and suffering from Parkinson's, had contracted COVID-19 and had been hospitalized.
The Bolivian government had reported Monday that in the last week there was a 77% increase in coronavirus cases thanks to the presence of the Omicron variant in the country in the midst of the fourth wave of infections.
Choquehuanca had been reluctant to getting vaccinated against COVID-19 but eventually announced he would abide by the presidential decrees mandating the treatment to attend public buildings. It is still unclear whether he had taken any of the doses.
“I have acquired natural immunity, but since we have a decree now, I am respectful of the rules, and all Bolivians have to comply with the rules, I'm going to get vaccinated in the next few days, but I have immunity,” Choquehuanca had said in a TV interview.
Since Jan. 1, a vaccination card or a negative PCR test for COVID-19 was required to enter public buildings and other indoor spaces. But the government eventually backtracked on its decision when people flocked vaccination centers to comply with the measure, thus overwhelming those facilities. The vaccination card was still to be required but effective at a later date.
Choquehuanca, of indigenous Aymara ancestry, explained he had contracted COVID-19 on two occasions and that he had recovered twice by resorting to naturopathic medicine. “I have passed the coronavirus the first time and I have overcome it with ancestral medicine. Then it hit me again and I got over it with natural medicine,“ he said in a radio interview.
”There are two ways to acquire immunity: naturally and artificially (vaccines), and I have acquired natural immunity,“ he said. Choquehuanca also explained he had consumed ”turmeric, ginger, onion, garlic, honey“ in mixtures to drink in the morning, as well as ”honey with lemon.“ He also admitted to having chewed coca leaves, an ancient practice in Bolivia, mainly among Aymara and Quechua peasants.