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Brazilian President Says He Tested Negative For Coronavirus Amid Conflicting Reports

There was some confusion Friday as early reports from Brazilian media said President Bolsonaro tested positive, but the president disputes that.

President Donald Trump speaks with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (left) during a dinner at Mar-a-Lago on March 7, 2020. | Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images
President Donald Trump speaks with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (left) during a dinner at Mar-a-Lago on March 7, 2020. | Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

UPDATE: March 13, 2:15 pm

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested negative for coronavirus, disputing local media reports early on Friday that said an initial test was positive. 

Bolsonaro was part of a recent Brazilian delegation to the U.S. that met with President Trump and Vice President Pence, which included a Brazilian official who has since tested positive for COVID-19. Given Bolsonaro's proximity to that individual, his communications chief, the government announced he was getting tested on Thursday and expected the results Friday.

On Friday, Politico, The Guardian and other news outlets cited Rio de Janeiro-based newspaper Jornal O Dia for reporting that "Bolsonaro's initial test for the virus has come back positive, but authorities are awaiting the results of a second test Friday to confirm the diagnosis." However, Bolsonaro's son started pushing back against that report on Twitter, and later the Brazilian president posted on his official Facebook account that the results were negative, with this photo:

There is some skepticism among Brazilians and reporters given the authoritarian Bolsonaro government's tendency to manipulate media in the past.

Meanwhile, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez says he tested positive for coronavirus after meeting with the same Brazilian official that was with Bolsonaro, Trump and Pence.

The White House continues to claim that Trump and Pence do not need to be tested at this time.


ORIGINAL STORY BELOW, published March 12 at 2:30 pm:

The Brazilian government has confirmed that an official who was with President Trump and Vice President Pence at Mar-a-Lago recently has tested positive for coronavirus.

Fábio Wajngarten, the communications chief for Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, had dinner with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in West Palm Beach, Florida on Saturday, March 7.

He posted a photo with Trump and Pence on his Instagram:

The Brazilian newspaper Estadão reported that Wajngarten experienced flu-like symptoms when he returned home from his trip to the U.S. Tuesday, and then tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Thursday. The paper also reported that the Brazilian official took a second test to confirm the diagnosis, which also came back positive.

In the meantime, President Bolsonaro and other officials who were part of the same delegation to the U.S. are being tested as well and monitored for symptoms. At least three other officials are reportedly also experiencing flu-like symptoms. Bolsonaro expects to receive his test results Friday.

The Brazilian government said they had informed U.S. officials so they could take “appropriate cautionary measures.” The White House said Thursday that “exposures from the case are being assessed,” but they did not believe that Trump and Pence need to be tested at this time. They also said Trump and Pence “had almost no interactions with the individual” despite photographic evidence to the contrary (Wajngarten also posted a video of Trump speaking right next to him on his Instagram account).

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were also at the same dinner with Wajngarten and Bolsonaro on Saturday night. The next day, the Brazilian delegation visited U.S. military’s Southern Command center in Florida. According to the Times, Brazil had at least 73 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Thursday, and is monitoring more than 930 suspected cases. 

Trump attended CPAC last month with several members of Congress who later self-quarantined after another attendee tested positive for the virus.

One of them, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, said “he saw the president frequently using hand sanitizer” during his time with him, as reported in The Pensacola News Journal. (Gaetz announced Tuesday that his COVID-19 lab results were negative.)

Other world leaders are taking the spread of coronavirus seriously. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada announced he is self-quarantining after his wife Sophie Grégoire exhibited “mild flu-like symptoms” after returning from a trip to the UK, which has more than 400 confirmed cases (Canada currently has more than 100). An official statement said Trudeau is exhibiting no symptoms himself but self-isolating “out of an abundance of caution” while they wait for Grégoire’s test results.

On Wednesday night, President Trump announced a ban on most travel from Europe to the U.S. for non-U.S. citizens and permanent residents for the next 30 days.