Tue, 11 Aug 2020

Brazil's President Tests Positive for COVID-19

Voice of America
08 Jul 2020, 05:35 GMT+10

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who repeatedly has expressed skepticism about the coronavirus, said Tuesday he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Brazil trails only the U.S. in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths. The South American country had more than 1.6 million total COVID-19 cases and upward of 65,000 deaths Tuesday, according to John's Hopkins University statistics.

The 65-year-old Bolsanaro has downplayed the risks posed by the coronavirus, once telling supporters that because of his history of athleticism, he would not worry if he became infected.

His apparent disregard for the potential lethal effects of the virus has led him to challenge safeguard measures to prevent the spread of the virus, such as weakening laws requiring a face mask in public.

"I'm, well, normal. I even want to take a walk around here, but I can't due to medical recommendations," a mask-wearing Bolsonaro told reporters who were close to him Tuesday in front of the capital. "I thought I had it before, given my very dynamic activity. I'm president and on the combat lines. I like to be in the middle of the people."

United States

There were more than 2.9 million coronavirus cases and 130,000 deaths Tuesday in the U.S., according to Hopkins data.

The nation has reported over 50,000 new daily confirmed cases during the first week of July, with many states posting a record number of single-day new cases. The figures support Monday's declaration by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, that the United States is "still knee-deep in the first wave" of the pandemic.

Amid surges in many U.S. states and a rise in the number of hospitalizations, doctors, nurses and some legislators complain that personal protective gear is again running low in the U.S. after dangerously low supplies during the early weeks of the pandemic.

Doctors established the nonprofit group #GetUsPPE in March to help distribute donated protective gear. The group said it had a 200% increase in requests during the last two weeks of June from medical providers in Texas, where state officials have said their supplies are adequate, despite being one of the hardest-hit states in the country.

Texas reported at least 8,700 new COVID-19 cases Monday, a new single-day record for the southwestern state. Hospitals across Texas have reached full capacity due to the huge numbers of hospitalized coronavirus patients; the situation has become so dire in the city of San Antonio that the U.S. military is planning to deploy a 50-member team of medical personnel to help with the crisis, including emergency-room and critical care nurses.

The dramatic rise in new COVID-19 cases has prompted authorities in some states, including California and Florida, to reimpose restrictions.

In California, which reported a record 11,786 new confirmed cases on Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered bars in six new counties to shut down, just days after imposing a similar order for 19 counties that also calls on restaurants, movie theaters and wineries to close indoor services.

Officials in Florida's largest county, Miami-Dade, Monday ordered the closure of restaurants, gyms, fitness centers and other indoor venues. The county's mayor, Carlos Gimenez, is allowing retail stores and hair salons to stay open. Beaches in the county will reopen Tuesday after they were closed for the July Fourth weekend.

In neighboring Georgia, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms was diagnosed Monday with COVID-19. She says she has not shown symptoms and plans to work from her home office in isolation with her family.

Across the globe

Israel announced Monday it is closing all bars, clubs, gyms and public swimming pools because of a rise in cases in the country. It will also reduce occupancy at restaurants and places of worship. The country has more than 30,000 confirmed cases and more than 330 deaths.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday turned down an invitation to visit the White House this week to celebrate the new regional free trade agreement with the presidents of the United States and Mexico because of the coronavirus.

India reported more than 23,000 new coronavirus cases Monday, pushing its total during the pandemic past Russia for third most in the world.  India now trails only the United States and Brazil in terms of overall confirmed cases. 

The country is closed to international travel, but the government has been gradually lifting restrictions on local tourism to try to boost the economy. 

But in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, officials have extended lockdowns on businesses, monuments and other attractions in the city of Agra, including at the Taj Mahal, amid the continued spread of COVID-19. 

The Taj Mahal and other tourist sites in Agra have been closed since March. 

In Pakistan, Minister of State for Health Zafar Mirza tested positive for the coronavirus, the latest high-profile government minister to contract the virus, after Foreign Minister Moahmood Qureshi announced last week he tested positive. Both men say their cases are mild.

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