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Bolsonaro was with US ambassador just days before COVID-19 diagnosis

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  • President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday announced he’d tested positive for COVID-19, just days after visiting the US Embassy in Brasília. 
  • Bolsonaro went to the embassy on Saturday for a July 4th celebration. 
  • Photos of the event showed the Brazilian president interacting closely with the US ambassador to Brazil.
  • Neither were wearing masks or social distancing in the images.
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President Jair Bolsonaro was at the US Embassy in Brasília and closely interacting with America’s top diplomat in the country just days before announcing he’d tested positive for COVID-19

“Everyone knew that it would reach a considerable part of the population sooner or later. It was positive for me,” Bolsonaro said on Tuesday of his most recent COVID-19 test. The Brazilian leader, who has repeatedly downplayed the threat of the virus, had been tested for the virus four times over the past several months. 

Bolsonaro went to the US Embassy in the Brazilian capital on Saturday for a July 4th celebration. Photos from the event show the Brazilian president sitting close to US ambassador to Brazil Todd Chapman. 

Based on the images, Bolsonaro and others, including the ambassador, were not wearing face masks at the time. 

Bolsonaro’s presence at the US embassy on Saturday, and the apparent lack of social distancing and face masks, raises questions as to whether the Brazilian president exposed others — including the US ambassador. 

The State Department and US Embassy in Brazil did not immediately respond to requests for comment on whether extra measures or precautions are being taken in light of Bolsonaro’s announcement on Tuesday. 

Bolsonaro, much like President Donald Trump, has rejected the science when it comes to COVID-19 and flouted public health recommendations. 

A federal judge in Brazil recently ruled that the Brazilian president had to wear a face mask in Brasília or face a fine. 

“Our lives have to go on. Jobs must be kept … We must, yes, get back to normal,” Bolsonaro said during a speech in March. “With my history as an athlete, if I were infected with the virus, I would have no reason to worry. I would feel nothing, or it would be at most just a little flu.”

Brazil has the second highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world after the US. 

As of Tuesday, there were over 1.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 65,000 fatalities from the virus in Brazil, per Johns Hopkins.

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