BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro shook hands with a crowd of cheering supporters packed shoulder-to shoulder in a visit to the far south of the country on Friday, after revealing the night before that he is taking antibiotics for a lung infection.
Bolsonaro has previously tested positive three times for the coronavirus, but, according to one source, doctors accompanying him on the trip have not linked the lung infection to his recent bout with COVID-19.
Despite social distancing guidelines amid the pandemic, Bolsonaro has often come into close contact with supporters, attending rallies and working the ropeline during public appearances.
On Friday, he said he would continue to leave Brasilia and travel “at least once a week.”
In a video Bolsonaro posted on Twitter, he showed his face briefly before donning a mask while greeting a raucous crowd in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. He later held up a small child.
Bolsonaro has also used his public appearances to tout the anti-malarial drug hydoxychloroquine, which he credits for his recovery from COVID-19 despite a lack of scientific evidence. Supporters cheered the president on Friday as he lifted a box of the drug over his head.
Bolsonaro is one of a handful of world leaders to have tested positive for coronavirus. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was rushed into intensive care in April and took several weeks to fully recover.
Having spent most of July in partial isolation at his official residence in Brasilia, Bolsonaro said on Saturday that his last coronavirus test was negative.
However, a week back into his normal schedule, the president said in his weekly live broadcast on Thursday that he had felt weak and exams had revealed an infection.
“I just had a blood test, you know, I had a little weakness yesterday, they even found a little bit of infection too. I’m on antibiotics now,” he said. “After 20 days indoors, I have other problems. I have mold in my lungs.”
His wife, Michelle Bolsonaro, tested positive on Thursday, along with the fifth member of his cabinet.
(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Writing by Jamie McGeever and Jake Spring; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Daniel Wallis)