Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro is being monitored and will be tested for the coronavirus after one of his deputies tested positive for the disease days after they met with President Trump in Florida.
Bolsonaro met with President Trump in Mar-A-Lago on Saturday, where they are said to have discussed the crisis in Venezuela, trade and other economic issues.
The O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper reported Thursday that Fabio Wajngarten, the communications secretary for the 64-year-old Brazilian leader who had traveled to Miami for the meeting as well, showed flu symptoms and tested positive for the virus early Wednesday.
Health officials confirmed the diagnosis.
The newspaper, without citing sources, said Bolsonaro is being monitored and tested for the virus, along with other members of the delegation who accompanied him. The president’s communications office Thursday confirmed precautions have been taken.
Wajngarten, who had been photographed with the U.S. president during the visit, initially denied the reports he had been tested for the virus, saying on social media that his health was fine. On Thursday, the president’s communications office said he is now in self-quarantine at home.
He was also seen with Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who went into self-quarantine this week after learning he and other congressional leaders had been exposed to a CPAC attendee who tested positive for COVID-19.
On Tuesday, Gaetz said he tested negative for coronavirus.
Neither Trump nor Vice President Mike Pence, who was in attendance at CPAC and in Miami, have been tested for the virus, officials said.
While speaking to White House reporters on Thursday, Trump said he is not concerned by the reports of Bolsonaro or his deputy being tested for the virus.
“I did hear something about that,” he said. “We had dinner together in Florida, at Mar-a-Lago, with the entire delegation. I don’t know if the press aide was there. If he was there, he was there. But we did nothing very unusual!”
Trump said he and Bolsonaro “sat next to each other for a period of time, had a great conversation.”
“He’s doing a terrific job in Brazil. We’ll find out what happens. I guess they’re being tested right now,” he said, adding: “I’m not concerned.”
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement the exposures from the case are being assessed and will dictate the next steps.
“Both the President and Vice President had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested at this time,” she said, adding: “We are monitoring the situation closely and will update everyone as we get more information.”
Meanwhile, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced through video Thursday that he has gone into self-quarantine after realizing he had come into contact with Wajngarten during Bolosanor’s Florida visit.
Suarez’s announcement came during a news conference in which other city leaders announced a city-wide state of emergency.
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla. also revealed Thursday he would be self-quarantining at home follow possible contact with Wajngarten in Miami.
“My office was alerted today by the Brazilian Embassy that a member of President Bolsonaro’s delegation tested positive for Coronavirus,” he said in a statement. “On Monday, I met with the president in Miami, and while I do not believe I interacted with the infected person, that individual was in the same room as me.”
He continued: “After consulting with the Senate’s attending physician and my personal doctor, I have been told that my risk is low and that I don’t need to take a test or quarantine. However, the health and safety of the American people is my focus and I have made the decision to self-quarantine in an abundance of caution. I am feeling healthy and not experiencing any symptoms at this time.”
During his visit to Miami, Bolsonaro downplayed the virus and said coronavirus was being overhyped by the media.
“During the past year, obviously, we have had moments of crisis. A lot of that is fantasy,” he said, according to Reuters. “And coronavirus, which is not all the mainstream media makes it out to be.”
The U.S. Embassy in Brasilia has contacted the government to get more information regarding Wajngarten and Bolsonaro, O Globo newspaper reported.
Meanwhile, the Brazilian leader has canceled a planned visit to Rio Grande do Norte because of “health security reasons.”
“The World Health Organization’s decree yesterday of a global pandemic requires us to be safe with the health of the president and the people around him,” Rogerio Marinho, the regional development minister, said in a statement on Twitter.
More than 124,500 people have been infected with coronavirus worldwide since it was first detected in Wuhan, China late last year.