2021-09-22 11:52:24 Brazil’s Health Minister Tests Positive for Covid at U.N.

Brazil’s Health Minister Tests Positive for Covid at U.N.

On Tuesday, Brazil’s health minister announced that he had tested positive for the coronavirus while attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York with the country’s defiantly unvaccinated president, Jair Bolsonaro.

Marcelo Queiroga, Brazil’s health minister, tweeted that he would quarantine in the United States and was “following all health safety protocols.” It was unclear whether he had been immunized.

Mr. Queiroga accompanied Mr. Bolsonaro to New York for the United Nations meeting, and was seen on video shaking hands with Britain’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, when Mr. Johnson met Mr. Bolsonaro on Monday.

The handling of the pandemic by Mr. Bolsonaro in South America’s largest country has been widely criticized. He has repeatedly downplayed the virus’s threat, and his government has been slow to secure vaccine access even as Covid-19 overwhelmed hospitals and killed over 590,000 people in Brazil.

Mr. Bolsonaro used his General Assembly speech on Tuesday to defend the use of ineffective coronavirus treatments and argued that doctors should have had more leeway in administering untested medications for Covid-19. The far-right president went on to say that he was among those who recovered after receiving “off-label” treatment with a malaria drug that has been shown in studies to be ineffective in treating the disease.

Mr. Bolsonaro, who had a mild case of Covid-19 in July of last year, has stated that he is not in a rush to get vaccinated, which made for an awkward exchange during his meeting with Mr. Johnson, who praised the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was developed at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Johnson advised, “Get AstraZeneca vaccines.” “I’ve had it two times.”

Mr. Bolsonaro said, pointing to himself, “Not yet.”

His unvaccinated status also caused problems in New York, where restaurants require proof of immunization for indoor seating. On Sunday, one of Mr. Bolsonaro’s ministers shared a photo of the president eating pizza while standing on the street with several top aides, including Mr. Queiroga, on Twitter.

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Brazil's Health Minister Tests Positive for Covid at U.N.