Brazil’s Bolsonaro takes mask off in public after virus recovery

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro (centre) removes his mask during a meeting with supporters outside his residence yesterday. (AP pic)

BRASILIA: Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday took off his mask in public as he greeted supporters in Brasilia, days after saying he had recovered from the coronavirus, which he said had not had a serious impact on his health.

The right-wing leader tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this month and went into quarantine at his residence, but said on Saturday that his latest test had come back negative.

“I didn’t have any problems,” Bolsonaro said on Monday.

“For people who have prior health problems and are of a certain age, anything can be dangerous.”

Brazil has the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world outside of the US and Bolsonaro has been criticised for minimising the severity of the disease and doing little to curb its spread as deaths mount.

Standing outside the Alvorada Palace, the Brazilian president’s official residence, Bolsonaro removed his mask after supporters asked that he take it off so they could snap pictures and selfies with him.

Initially, Bolsonaro said he would not take his mask off because he would end up “on the front page of tomorrow’s newspapers” if he did, but ended up doing so for brief periods of time in response to supporters.

The Brazilian Press Association filed a criminal complaint against Bolsonaro earlier this month because he took off his mask in the presence of reporters just as he announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The group alleges Bolsonaro endangered the health of those present at the news conference.

On Monday, Brazil reported a total of 2,442,375 confirmed coronavirus cases and 87,618 deaths. New cases totalled 23,384, while there were 614 new deaths.