Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro who is 64, was tested for the coronavirus earlier this week after his top aide, press secretary Fábio Wajngarten, tested positive for the virus. That result came after Bolsonaro, and Wajngarten, had visited with President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend, which means the US president could also been exposed to the virus.
Bolsonaro’s visit to Mar-a-Lago has implications for other world leaders, specifically President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, the latter of whom is leading America’s coronavirus response.
ut Bolsonaro, along with Wajngarten, the press aide who tested positive for the coronavirus, didn’t just visit with Trump and Pence at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend. Other US lawmakers were also present for the meeting, including Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rick Scott (R-FL), who have since placed themselves in self-isolation due to those contacts.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez — who met with Bolsonaro and his staff this weekend when they visited Florida — also announced Friday that he’d tested positive for the coronavirus.
The White House said Thursday that Trump or Pence did not currently require testing for the coronavirus because they had “almost no interactions” with Wajngarten. Still, this goes against the CDC’s guidelines that instruct individuals to separate themselves if they are “reasonably believed to have been exposed to a communicable disease but not yet symptomatic.”
Trump, like Bolsonaro, has downplayed the coronavirus. In February, Trump said the coronavirus was “very much under control in the USA,” while also saying the number of cases would remain low and that it might go away in warmer weather, of which there’s no evidence right now.
“Thirty-two is too many,” he added of the number of cases then. “But when you look at the kind of numbers that you’re seeing coming out of other countries, it’s pretty amazing when you think of it. So, that’s it.”
The number of cases in the US has since risen sharply, with dozens of deaths as of March 13. While the Trump administration is taking increased measures, including an imminent national emergency declaration, the president can’t easily undo his previous mixed messages, or his spread of misinformation. The same goes for Bolsonaro.
Multiple times during this press conference, Trump has been asked about the Brazilian official whom he met and who subsequently tested positive. He was asked if he was offering different advice to Americans than he’s practising himself.
I think they have to listen to their doctors and they shouldn’t be jumping to get the test unless they have it.
In response to a followup question Trump said he would be tested “fairly soon.”