Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday confirmed he tested positive for the coronavirus while speaking to reporters. “It [the test] came back positive,” he told them, according to The Guardian. Bolsonaro has followed almost no distancing norms during the pandemic, with him attending rallies and meeting groups of supporters for months now.

The Brazil president has also downplayed the disease for months. Now, Brazil has more than 16 lakh or 1.6 million cases of the virus, second only to the United States. More than 65,000 people in Brazil have died of Covid-19 so far, and the numbers show no signs of decreasing. “We are sorry for all the dead, but that’s everyone’s destiny,” he had said in June.

Bolsonaro had attended several events over the weekend. Pictures show he wore no mask at any of them. He has rarely been seen wearing a mask over the last few months. A judge had even ordered the president to wear a mask in June, after he had attended multiple crowded events without one on. He had said “nobody was above the law”.

On Tuesday, he said: “Just look at my face. I’m well, fine, thank God … Thanks to all those who have been praying for me … and to those who criticise me, no problem, carry on criticising as much as you like.”

Bolsonaro has called the novel coronavirus – which has killed more than 5.4 lakh people and infected 1.18 crore across the world so far – a “little flu”. He has repeatedly urged people to go back to work, citing the deteriorating economy as the reason, and attended multiple anti-lockdown rallies. Mostly without a mask on.

The country’s medical services have been crippled by the outbreak. Cities have also not been able to keep up with the unabated number of deaths. In Rio de Janeiro, cemeteries sped up building vaults as the toll increased in April. In Manaus, coffins had to be buried one on top of the other, Reuters reported.

Five quotes from Bolsonaro during the pandemic:

  • March 31 - “That’s life. We’re all going to die someday.”
  • March 24: “With my history as an athlete, if I were infected by the virus I would not have to worry. I would feel nothing or, at most, it would be a little flu or a little cold.”
  • Early April - “Will people die? People will die”.
  • April 20: “Look man, I’m not a gravedigger.”
  • April 28: When asked about the rising toll in Brazil. “So what? I’m sorry, but what do you want me to do?”

On Wednesday, Bolsonaro was severely criticised for taking off a mask that he finally wore, while telling reporters he had contracted the virus. This comes soon after the World Health Organization said there is evidence to show the virus spreads via air as well. Social media users have also pointed out the irony of the president contracting a virus he has dismissed for months.

Here are some tweets: