Bolsonaro has downplayed virus fears for months

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for months flirted with the new coronavirus as that he flouted social distancing at lively demonstrations and encouraged crowds throughout outings from the presidential residence, usually without a mask.

He has sometimes downplayed the chance posed by COVID-19, the condition that can be brought on by the virus, and at others expressed fatalism that it will inevitably claim lives. He says tough measures to cub the virus’ spread such as for example lockdowns really are a threat to Brazil’s economic well-being

On Tuesday, that he announced he has tested positive for the virus, making him one of the more than 1.6 million Brazilians with confirmed infections. It is the world’s second highest total, though considered by experts to be an undercount because of lack of testing. Here’s a review of what Bolsonaro has said as the tally grew.



Bolsonaro has argued that alarm concerning the spread of the virus is overblown.

“In my understanding, the issue of the coronavirus is more of a fantasy. It is not all that that mainstream media says and advertises all over the world,” that he said throughout an event with U.S. President Donald Trump in Florida on March 10, when Brazil had confirmed only a number of cases.

But multiple members of his delegation on the trip proved to have infections. Still, Bolsonaro insisted in a March 15 interview that concern yourself with COVID-19 was “hysteria.”

“Other viruses that were more dangerous happened in the past and we didn’t have this crisis,” that he said.

In a March 24 nationally televised address, Bolsonaro struck a defiant tone as he downplayed the virus, sometimes while smirking.

“In my particular case, because of my history as an athlete, in case I were contaminated by the virus I wouldn’t need to worry. I wouldn’t feel anything or it would be, at most, similar to a little flu, or a little cold,” he said.

Asked two days later if Brazil’s situation could become as dire as that of the U.S., Bolsonaro scoffed.

“Brazilians need to be studied. They don’t catch anything. You see the guy jumping in the sewer, diving in. And nothing happens to him,” the president said.

More than three months later, he continues to minimize the risks.

“Let’s take care, especially the elders, those who have comorbidities. The youngest, take care, too,” Bolsonaro he said Tuesday. “But if you get the virus, stay calm. For you the possibility of something more serious is nearly zero.”



In early April, when almost 400 people had died from the disease in Brazil, Bolsonaro began to say that the coronavirus would only be vanquished after the population reached so-called herd immunity.

“The virus is the same as a rainstorm: 70% of you will get wet. No one contests that,” Bolsonaro told supporters in Brasilia. “And the whole nation will be free of the pandemic after 70% are infected and have the antibodies. Period.”

Bolsonaro’s comments begun to take a darker turn. Asked on April 20 concerning the surging amount of deaths, that he responded: “I’m not a gravedigger, OK?”

Eight days later, with the tally of COVID-19 deaths surpassing 5,000, Bolsonaro feigned impotence. “So what? I am sorry. What do you want me to do?” that he told reporters. “I don’t do miracles.”

“Do I lament the deaths? Yes, I lament them. But it’s the reality. Everyone here will die (someday). No one will be left. And if you die in the middle of a field, a vulture will eat you,” he said May 22, the afternoon after Brazil’s death toll surpassed 20,000. It has since risen above 65,000, the world’s second highest total.

He added, “Face the virus like a reality: 70% of individuals will get infected. Why fill people with terror? Everybody will probably die.”



Bolsonaro’s concern concerning the Brazilian economy has been a fixture of his statements since late March. He has repeatedly said strict social distancing measures that sacrifice jobs and income will ultimately be much more harmful compared to virus it self, and that he criticized governors and mayors who imposed restrictions.

“Life is more important compared to economy, but we cannot exaggerate,” he said March 22 about the imposition of social distancing by local leaders. “With unemployment there the catastrophe will soon be bigger. Soon people will know they’ve been cheated by these governors and with a big area of the media with this issue of the coronavirus.”

On May 14, that he warned that “more people will die — many, many more — if the economy is still destroyed.”

Even in announcing he had tested positive for the coronavrus, Bolsonaro defended his view that Brazil needs to come back to normal activity. “You can’t just talk about the effects of the virus you need to worry about. Life goes on. Brazil needs to produce. You want to get the economy in gear,″ that he said.

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