In his third televised address to the nation, Jair Bolsonaro doubled down on his hand-off approach to the coronavirus outbreak. He said that “from the beginning, it was necessary to contain the panic and hysteria—and set up strategies to save lives.” The president praised Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta for his efficiency in coordinating the public healthcare system.
But in a typical Bolsonaro move, he bashed at the media for “fear-mongering.” He said the vast number of victims in Italy, “a country with a lot of elderly citizens,” offered the perfect ingredients for sensationalist coverage.
Mr. Bolsonaro also positioned himself against restrictive measures, saying there is no reason to close schools, as “only 60-plus citizens are in high-risk groups.” He added: “There are rare fatal cases among healthy people under 40 years old.”
The 65-year-old far-right politician, however, said his “athleticism” puts him out of harm. “Even if I were infected, there would be nothing to worry about. It would be a little flu or a little cold.” Over the past few days, many in Brazil have wondered whether Jair Bolsonaro has contracted Covid-19. Over the past two weeks, 22 people who traveled with him to the U.S. tested positive for the coronavirus. Mr. Bolsonaro says he tested negative twice. But he has refused to disclose the results.
No one is “too young” for Covid-19
Early data from China does suggest that Covid-19 deaths happened among 60-plus citizens. However, a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that among patients admitted to intensive care, 36 percent were aged 45-64 years and 12 percent were aged 20-44 years. And many people infected with Covid-19 suffered serious lung damage.
Watch Jair Bolsonaro’s address (in Portuguese):