Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he is “doing very well” one day after testing positive for coronavirus.
Bolsonaro tested positive for the disease on Tuesday after spending the weekend in close proximity with government officials, including a mask-free attendance at an Independence Day celebration at the U.S. Embassy.
“Be assured that for you the chance of something more serious is close to zero,” Bolsonaro assured citizens during the announcement of his illness on Tuesday.
In a video posted late Tuesday evening, Bolsonaro drank what he described as his third dose of hydroxochloriquine and seemed to attribute his state of relative health to the drug.
Hydroxochloriquine, commonly used to treat malaria, has been touted by both Bolsonaro and U.S. President Donald Trump as a treatment for coronavirus.
So far little medical evidence has been produced to support their claims; in June, the U.S. National Institutes of Health halted clinical trials of the drug in COVID-19 patients due to lack of sufficient evidence. The World Health Organization also announced on July 4 that their investigation into the treatment’s efficacy would cease, as data does not suggest increased recovery rates for COVID-19 patients.
"To those who root against hydroxychloroquine but don't present alternatives, I hate to say I'm doing very well using it and, thank God, I will still live much longer," Bolsonaro wrote in a Twitter post on Wednesday.
The populist Brazilian president has been known to flout convention. In March, he dismissed concerns about the virus and claimed that his previous experience as an athlete would protect him and has repeatedly refused to wear a mask despite a court order requiring that he do so.
Local government and public health officials have encountered several obstacles to enforcing necessary safety precautions. In several cases, such as indoor mask mandates and social distancing enforcement, Bolsonaro has personally intervened and vetoed the legislation. He has claimed such precautionary measures dampen the embattled Brazilian economy.
Two health ministers during the pandemic, both trained doctors, were fired by Bolsonaro in recent months and were replaced with an active-duty army general on an interim basis.
With 1.6 million confirmed cases and at least 66,000 deaths, Brazil’s death toll trails only that of the United States.
The 65-year-old former Army captain said he planned to work via videoconference and sign as few documents as possible during the course of his illness.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernandez also contracted the virus, although both of them required hospital stays and extra oxygen.