Brazil’s mining minister tests positive for coronavirus

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro. (Image by Palácio do Planalto, Flickr).

Brazil’s top security official and mining and energy minister are the 15th and 16th members of President Jair Bolsonaro’s recent delegation to the U.S. to test positive for coronavirus.

General Augusto Heleno, 72, said Wednesday morning that he’s undergoing additional testing to confirm the result. Later in the day, while donning a face mask, Bolsonaro told reporters during a press conference that Mining and Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque, 61, also came down with the ailment. Albuquerque had previously tested negative for the virus.

Both accompanied Bolsonaro on a trip earlier this month when he met his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump. They have since maintained a normal work schedule, including meetings at the presidential palace.

Bolsonaro as well as Trump have both tested negative for the virus.

“I am isolated, at home, and I won’t be answering phone calls,” Heleno posted on his Twitter account, adding that he shows no symptoms of the illness.

Even as a growing number of people in his inner circle fall victim to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bolsonaro has adopted a relaxed stance toward the virus, personally greeting supporters over the weekend and saying he intends to throw a small party to celebrate his 65th birthday on March 21.

(By Simone Iglesias)

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