Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Saturday that he has tested negative for the coronavirus, more than two weeks after he was first diagnosed with the infection on July 7. However, the 65-year-old leader did not mention when he took the latest test.
“RT-PCR [reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test] for Sars-Cov 2: negative,” Bolsonaro tweeted with a photo of him smiling and holding a packet of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine. The effectiveness of the drug has been unproven for treating the coronavirus and the World Health Organization had also discontinued a major trial to see if it cured patients.
The president, who has regularly appeared in public without a mask and consistently downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic, spent nearly 20 days in self-isolation at his official residence in the capital Brasilia, the Alvorada Palace. During that period, he underwent at least three more coronavirus tests, all of which were positive.
Outside of the United States, Brazil is the worst-hit country in the coronavirus pandemic. Bolsonaro has encouraged reopening the country even as cases continued to rise sharply and has criticised local government efforts to contain the pandemic with physical distancing guidelines. He also fired two health ministers during the pandemic, both trained doctors, and replaced them with an active-duty army general on an interim basis.