Brazil's President Tests Positive Again For Coronavirus Two Weeks After Confirming Infection as Country's Cases Rise

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for a new coronavirus on Wednesday, two weeks after he publicly announced his positive diagnosis.

Bolsonaro, who has been criticized for downplaying the outbreak, has been in isolation at the Palácio da Alvorada, the president's official residence, since his July 7 diagnosis. He confirmed the positive result of his third test on Wednesday, according to CNN Brasil.

The president had no fever, and his oxygen saturation, heart rate and blood pressure are also normal, according to CNN Brasil, but he will remain isolated at his home.

On Tuesday, the day he was tested, Bolsonaro said he was anxious and hoped the test result would be negative. He was scheduled to travel alongside Senator Ciro Nogueira, the national president of Progressistas, to Piauí at the end of the week.

Brazil, the first South American country to see a case of the new coronavirus, has the second-highest number of cases. More than 2.1 million people tested positive and the country also has the second-highest number of deaths with more than 81,000 lives lost.

jair bolsonaro positive coronavirus test
air Bolsonaro President of Brazil looks on in front of the official residence after testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) in Alvorada Palace on July 19 in Brazil. On Wednesday, Bolsonaro confirmed to CNN Brasil that he tested positive for coronavirus two weeks after his first positive test result. Bruna Prado/Getty

The country regularly reports over 200,000 new cases a day, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, and critics called Bolsonaro Brazil's greatest threat. He was criticized for calling it a "little flu" and for pushing back against local leaders implementing shutdowns.

He also vetoed legislation mandating the use of face masks indoors and only recently began to wear one in public. Bolsonaro continued to downplay the virus after his positive diagnosis, saying the majority of Brazilians who contract the virus "don't notice a thing." He added that there was "no reason for fear" and advocated for people to return to work.

Despite the rise in cases, Bolsonaro's low approval rating continued to rise for the third month in a row, a XP/Ipespe poll found. Bolsonaro's approval rose two percentage points in July, but he remains largely unpopular at an overall approval rating of only 30 percent.

Brazilians' approval for how he's handling the coronavirus pandemic also continued an upward trend. One in four people surveyed said he was doing a good or great job, a two percentage point increase from June's poll. However, the majority of those polled, 52 percent, still consider his response to be bad.

Newsweek reached out to the Brazilian Embassy for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

The World Health Organization has consistently pushed for world leaders to unite in solidarity around stopping the spread of the virus and Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Program, said Bolsonaro's diagnosis should be a message to the rest of the world. The Brazilian president wasn't the first world leader to test positive, which shows that no one is safe from the virus.

"I think it brings home for us all the reality of this virus and no one is special in that regard," Ryan said during a briefing on July 7. "We're all potentially exposed to this virus. The virus doesn't really know who we are. Whether we're prince or pauper, we're equally vulnerable."