In Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro tested negative for coronavirus after maintaining the rumor about contamination

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonora on March 13 in Brasilia.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonora on March 13 in Brasilia. SERGIO LIMA / AFP

Vulgarity and provocation: Jair Bolsonaro did not deviate from his habits, Friday March 13. The Brazilian president said at midday that he was not infected with the coronavirus. ” DON’T BELIEVE THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA! “, he posted on social media, joining his words, and posting a photo of him, taken in February, performing an arm-of-honor for journalists.

The announcement ends a veritable twenty-four hour novela. The rumor that the head of state had contracted the virus had been in effect since Wednesday. This would have been possible during his visit to Florida, from March 7 to 11 – where he met his American counterpart, Donald Trump: during the day, the Brazilian presidency announced that Fabio Weingarten, head of the communications department of Mr. Bolsonaro, also from the trip, had tested positive.

Panic at the Alvorada, the presidential residence: the far-right leader, who until then believed that the coronavirus was only a ” little crisis »Propagated by« mainstream media “, Changes his rifle. He takes a blood test and appears on television during a speech and live on social media to explain his policy towards the pandemic.

In the first, Jair Bolsonaro appears ill: pale, sweating, looking feverish. In the second, he wears a mask. “We have to avoid an explosion of infected people, because hospitals would not be able to accommodate so many people”, said the president, who became alarmist, going so far as to call on his supporters to postpone large demonstrations in support of his policy, scheduled for Sunday, March 15.

Friday, the result is long overdue. And on social networks, the rumor swells: the president is indeed carrying the virus. At the end of the morning, several Brazilian and American media, including Fox News, based on an “off” testimony from the president’s son, Eduardo, confirmed the information … before being denied, in just a few minutes, by a Jair Bolsonaro delighted to strike a blow at the credibility of a press which he vomits and with which he is in constant conflict.

Handling

So what happened? Many in newsrooms suspect the president of manipulating the press, intoxicating the media with his son, and knowingly delaying the release of the results to make journalists feel guilty. It would not be the first time that Mr. Bolsonaro has engaged in this type of manipulation: in December, he had thus suggested to the press that he could be suffering from skin cancer, causing a wind panic… before going back on his words.

In any case, Brazil is now also affected by the epidemic and has 77 confirmed cases. The situation is particularly worrying in Sao Paulo, the largest metropolis in South America, home to one of the largest Italian communities in the world. The first Brazilian patient (and the first from the subcontinent), detected at the end of February, returned from Italy. The Sao Paulo Stock Exchange’s Bovespa index fell 14.78% on Thursday, its largest drop in more than two decades.

Concern is therefore starting to spread to the country, but no strong measures have yet been taken at the national level – nor on transport or education -, unlike neighboring countries. The government intends to release 5 billion reais (940 million euros) to fight the disease and mobilize an additional 5,000 doctors. So many measures deemed largely insufficient by experts, in a country where the health system is in structural crisis.

After a period of soft wait, the Minister of the Economy, Paulo Guedes, has certainly announced that he will present within 48 hours a plan worthy of the crisis. But local authorities are already taking the lead. The governor of Minas Gerais (southeast) has declared a state of emergency. That of Rio de Janeiro ordered the closure of all public and private schools, as well as that of theaters and cinemas.

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