SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tested negative three times for the coronavirus in March after he attended a widely publicized meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Florida, according to test results made public Wednesday.
The trip made international headlines because a Bolsonaro aide photographed close to the two leaders at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club turned out to be infected at the time. Twenty-three other Brazilian government officials and business leaders who also went on the trip later tested positive for the virus.
Bolsonaro strongly resisted revealing his test results and has told reporters that he had two tests after the March 9 trip that were negative. But Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Ricardo Lewandowski ruled that the information was public and revealed that the president had three negative tests — on March 12, March 17 and March 21.
Bolsonaro’s tests were conducted using pseudonyms for him, as is customary for medical tests preformed on the country’s leaders to preserve their privacy.
As the pandemic deepened globally and in Brazil, Bolsonaro has repeatedly appeared in public without wearing a mask and frequently shakes hands with supporters. He has roundly criticized attempts by governors and mayors to close non-essential businesses and keep people at home as virus cases rise, saying job losses hurt Latin America’s largest country more than the virus.
More than 12,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Brazil and it is the hardest hit country in Latin America.
The legal fight to force the release of Bolsonaro’s coronavirus test results grew two weeks ago when the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo filed a lawsuit seeking full results of the tests that Bolsonaro had said were negative but refused to provide.
The test results made public by the court had been provided by presidential officials, not the laboratories that performed the tests.