Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has had a history of playing down the severity of the coronavirus. The controversial, far-right leader has agitated much of the South American country by encouraging large-scale reopenings, despite the fact that Brazil has the second-highest number of infections in the world. Currently, there are more than 1.67 million cases of COVID-19 and now, one of them is Bolsonaro himself. As people caught wind of the news on Tuesday, not many were all that surprised.
After the 65-year-old president revealed that he’d tested positive for the virus, some Twitter users had one word for him: Karma. He’d previously referred to the virus as “a little flu” and attended several events since March without a mask on, undermining safety and social distancing practices proposed by his health ministry. His laissez-faire attitude toward the crisis seems to have caught up to him.
“On Sunday, I wasn’t feeling very well. On Monday, it got worse when I started feeling tired and some muscle pain,” he said in an interview that aired on Brazilian news networks. “I also had a 38-degree [Celsius] fever. Given those symptoms, the presidential doctor said there was suspicion of COVID-19.”
Social media users quickly blasted his carelessness. “Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for COVID-19. Universal karma is a bitch, no one can escape it,” one person wrote. Another noted that given how blatant he’d been about ignoring basic precautions, his diagnosis is barely a shock. “It’s not even ironic that he denied the reality of the pandemic and then caught it. It’s just predictable,” he wrote. “Trump is obviously next.”
While Bolsonaro did acknowledge that his age puts him at risk for complications, he still appeared to be taking the situation far too negligently at the Tuesday press conference. According to the Guardian, he was speaking to a small group of journalists when he took a step back to say, “Just look at my face. I’m well, fine, thank God… Thanks to all those who have been praying for me … and to those who criticize me, no problem, carry on criticizing as much as you like.” The move infuriated viewers, who interpreted it as yet another example of how nonchalant and sloppy he’s been about the virus. Some outlets have also reported that the media community is planning to sue for putting journalists’ lives at risk.