Business & Economy

Bolsonaro under medical observation, Trudeau in self-isolation over COVID-19

Brasilia and Ottawa, Mar 12 (efe-epa).- President Jair Bolsonaro is under strict medical observation after the head of the President’s Special Communications Secretariat, Fabio Wajngarten, tested positive for the coronavirus, the Brazilian government reported Thursday.

“The Medical Service of the Presidency took and is taking the necessary preventive measures to protect the health” of Bolsonaro and of “the entire presidential retinue that accompanied him on his recent official visit to the United States,” read a note released by the Planalto presidential palace.

On that trip, which took place between last Saturday and Tuesday, Bolsonaro was accompanied by Wajngarten and several government ministers, who traveled with him on the official presidential jet and participated in a dinner offered to the delegation by US President Donald Trump.

According to official sources consulted by EFE, the US Embassy in Brazil has requested information about Wajngarten’s condition with an eye toward learning when he is estimated to have been exposed to – and contracted – the virus.

Bolsonaro has already cancelled a trip he had scheduled for Thursday to the northeastern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Norte, a move that was considered “prudent” given the spread of the coronavirus, according to the Regional Development Ministry.

That office said in an official communique released before the result of the tests performed on Wajngarten that “given the declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO) that we’re facing a pandemic caused by the coronavirus, it was considered prudent to suspend the ceremony.”

The statement added, in a calmer tone, that authorities had also decided to cancel the trip due to certain “negotiations” that the government is conducting with Parliament regarding the budget.

During his visit to Miami, Bolsonaro participated in a meeting with members of the Brazilian community living in the US to whom he minimized the risks of the coronavirus, saying that a kind of “fabrication” and “fantasy” was being created for which he blamed – in part – the press.

On Wednesday, Bolsonaro had adhered to that stance, saying that he knew that “the flu has killed many more” people than the coronavirus.

To date, about 80 cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in Brazil but nobody has died so far. In addition, there are around 1,000 people who are suspected to have been in contact with coronavirus carriers and thus may be infected, although they are not showing symptoms yet.

Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in self-isolation after his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, over the past few days developed cold symptoms after returning from a trip to the United Kingdom.

The couple has isolated themselves in their home in Ottawa while they await the results of testing to determine if she has contracted COVID-19.

The prime minister’s office said in a statement that Trudeau is not showing any symptoms that could be linked to the coronavirus at the moment.

“The prime minister will spend the day in briefings, phone calls and virtual meetings from home including speaking with other world leaders and joining the special Covid-19 cabinet committee discussion,” the statement said.

Because of the suddenly changed situation, Trudeau cancelled an emergency meeting he had been scheduled to hold on Thursday with the heads of government of the Canadian provinces and indigenous leaders, with whom he was going to discuss the spread of the virus.

Canadian Health Minister Patty Hadju said on Wednesday that Canadian authorities predict that 30-70 percent of the Canadian population will contract the new coronavirus at some point.

The news of the self-isolation of the prime minister and his wife comes just hours after the US prohibited incoming flights from Europe for the next 30 days in a bid to slow the spread of the virus to the US, although President Donald Trump exempted the United Kingdom from that flight ban, the country where Gregoire potentially contracted the coronavirus.

To date, one person has died in Canada as a result of the coronavirus and about 80 have been diagnosed with it.


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