Bolsonaro shifts attitude toward health amid Covid-19 scare

covid bolsonaro scare
President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Marcos Corrêa/PR

President Jair Bolsonaro is expecting the results of his coronavirus tests this afternoon, after he reported that he was suffering from mild Covid-19 symptoms. However, his attitude toward his health condition has been diametrically opposed to his consistent stance on the pandemic, toward which he has been largely dismissive.

Mr. Bolsonaro has, on numerous occasions, referred to Covid-19 as a “little flu” and suggested that were he to contract the virus, he would only experience very mild symptoms, due to his “past as an athlete.” However, upon feeling an “indisposition” on Monday, he swiftly underwent exams at the hospital and cleared his schedule for the rest of the week, canceling an important cabinet meeting in the process.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s media is on tenterhooks awaiting the results of President Bolsonaro’s coronavirus tests. A similar situation occurred in mid-March, when the head of state was rumored to have contracted Covid-19 on an official visit to the U.S. Mr. Bolsonaro was tested several times but refused to publish the results, until being forced to by a Supreme Court order.

In episode #108 of our Explaining Brazil podcast, Johns Hopkins associate professor Filipe Campante explained that the president’s opacity is part of a larger strategy to sow the seeds of doubt in the mainstream media, creating an environment where any information can be questioned as false.

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