President Jair Bolsonaro’s lawmaker son said Friday he had contracted the coronavirus — the third member of Brazil’s delegation to the UN General Assembly in New York to test positive.
Eduardo Bolsonaro, 37, said on Twitter he was feeling well and had “started to treat myself” without specifying what he was using. He cited his infection as evidence in his campaign against the coronavirus vaccine passport recently introduced in some Brazilian cities.
“We know that the vaccines were developed faster than is usually the case. I received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and I got Covid,” he said. “Does this mean the vaccine is useless? No. But I believe it is another argument against the health passport.”
Brazil’s health minister Marcelo Queiroga tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday after attending the assembly and had to quarantine in a hotel in New York. The third positive test was in a diplomat who arrived in New York a day ahead of Jair Bolsonaro.
President Bolsonaro, who has survived Covid-19, appeared without a mask on several occasions during his UN trip despite refusing to get the vaccine. He caused a stir on social media after a photograph showed him taking few precautions as he ate a slice of pizza from a New York street vendor with other members of the Brazilian delegation.
Since his return, the president has been self-isolating at his official residence for having had contact with Queiroga, and is due to undergo a PCR test this weekend.
Bolsonaro opened the General Assembly with a speech in which he made several misleading or inaccurate statements, several related to the pandemic, according to AFP’s Factcheck team.
The president has minimized the virus as a “little flu,” fought lockdowns, questioned face masks and rejected various offers of vaccines for his population while pushing unproven drugs such as hydroxychloroquine.
Bolsonaro has said he will be the “last” Brazilian to get the vaccine.
But in an interview with Veja journal published Friday, he revealed that his wife Michelle had received the vaccine while in New York this week for the UN trip. “Getting vaccinated is a personal choice. My wife, for example, decided to get vaccinated in the United States. Me, no,” he said.
Bolsonaro is under fire at home for his handling of the pandemic, which has claimed nearly 600,000 lives there, and the revelation about his wife prompted further criticism.
Epidemiologist Pedro Hallal told broadcaster G1 that the decision showed “contempt for the public health system and all Brazilians. It shows a lack of confidence.”
Bolsonaro critic Senator Omar Aziz congratulated Michelle Bolsonaro for getting the vaccine, but said “she could have got vaccinated here; showing Brazilians that she was getting vaccinated could have set a good example.”
The government later issued a statement saying that the first lady had been offered a vaccine as she was doing a Covid-19 PCR test, and so had said yes as she had been planning to get vaccinated anyway.
The statement said she reiterated “her admiration and respect for the Brazilian health system.”
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