Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, seen at a March 18 news conference on government measures to fight the corornavirus pandemic, announced Tuesday he has tested positive for COVID-19. File photo by Joedson Alves/EPA-EFE
July 7 (UPI) -- Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro announced Tuesday he has tested positive for coronavirus.
Bolsonaro, who for months has dismissed the seriousness of the pandemic even as Brazil emerged as the second-most affected country in the world, revealed his diagnosis in a live television broadcast.
Wearing a mask in front of reporters outside of his official residence, the president said, "There's no reason for fear. That's life. Life goes on. I thank God for my life and the role I've been given to decide the future of this great nation that is called Brazil."
He added, "Everyone knew that it would reach a considerable part of the population sooner or later. It was positive for me."
Bolsonaro showed signs of COVID-19 infection on Monday, including a fever, CNN reported. He told supporters that a lung examination had come back clean and that he would be tested for coronavirus.
The right-wing populist leader has repeatedly brushed off the gravity of the pandemic, once calling COVID-19 nothing more than "a little flu" and suggesting that his athletic background would protect him against severe symptoms.
He has opposed measures taken by local officials to impose lockdowns, claiming they would cause more damage than allowing the pandemic to take its course.
Brazil has racked up 1.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 -- the second-most in the world following the United States -- and has recorded more than 65,000 deaths.