Trump met with Brazilian official who tested positive for coronavirus

A Brazilian official who met Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago last weekend has tested positive for coronavirus.

Fabio Wajngarten, communications secretary to Jair Bolsonaro, accompanied the Brazilian president on a visit to Florida, where the two leaders dined together.

During the visit, Wajngarten shared on Instagram a picture of himself, Trump, Vice-President Mike Pence and Brazilian TV presenter Alvaro Garnero. In one video from the visit, Wajngarten (wearing glasses) was seen just behind Trump and Bolsonaro.

In a statement, the Brazilian government confirmed Wajngarten had tested positive for Covid-19, and said: “The medical service of the presidency of the Republic adopted and is adopting all the necessary preventative measures to preserve the health of the president of the Republic and the entire presidential committee which accompanied him on the recent trip to the United States, as well as presidential palace staff.”

The US government had been informed “so that they can adopt the necessary cautionary measures”, the statement added.

Gabriel Stargardter

The guy standing to Trump’s left just tested positive for coronavirus, according to Brazilian media. Fabio Wajngarten posted this photo, taken during meetings at Mar-a-Lago, five days ago.

March 12, 2020

Speaking in the Oval Office on Thursday, according to the pool report, Trump said he wasn’t concerned about reports from Brazil.

In Canada, meanwhile, the communications director for Justin Trudeau said the prime minister’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, had exhibited “mild flu-like symptoms including a low fever” after a trip to London and was being tested for Covid-19.

Trudeau himself was “opting to self-isolate and work from home until receiving Sophie’s results”, Cameron Ahmad said in a statement.

Wajngarten was in home quarantine. News of his condition was first revealed by his wife Sophie on a WhatsApp group of parents at the school their children attend, the Folha de S Paulo newspaper reported on Wednesday.

“My husband returned from the trip to Miami yesterday and did the Covid exam which was positive,” she wrote.

However, Wajngarten attacked Brazilian media and tweeted: “I’m well.”

Bolosnaro has previously downplayed the crisis. On Wednesday, he said “Other flus kill more than this” and has also called the current public health crisis “oversized”.

Covid-19 is a respiratory illness which can spread via sneezes or coughs or by physical contact. Most who contract the disease recover but it can be fatal, particularly among the elderly and those with underlying health concerns.

According to the latest figures from the World Health Organization, nearly 120,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide, with 4,300 deaths.

In the US, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 938 confirmed cases and 29 deaths, in 38 states and Washington DC. Other estimates of the toll are higher.

As the federal government has struggled to implement sufficient testing and preventative measures, Trump’s own responses have been widely criticised.

The president has downplayed the dangers posed by the virus, which he has repeatedly compared to the common flu; predicted it would be killed by warmer weather, which experts say is not certain; said a vaccine is imminent when experts say it is not; and continued to shake hands with supporters in public, against the advice of health experts.

Republican members of Congress including Trump’s new chief-of-staff self-quarantined after an individual who attended the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) outside Washington tested positive for coronavirus. Trump and Pence also attended that gathering.

On Wednesday night, Trump ordered a suspension of travel to the US from Europe, excepting the UK. At the same time, to a sense of growing national dismay, the NBA suspended its season after a player tested positive and the Hollywood actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson were revealed to have been hospitalised in Australia with the virus.

On Thursday, Trump spoke to reporters at the White House.

“We need a little separation,” he said. “Until such time as this [coronavirus] goes away. It’s going to go away.”

He added: “In the meantime we want to lose as few people as possible. This morning, is it 32?”

He added: “Thirty-two’s a lot. Thirty-two’s too many.”

Trump was meeting Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar. They avoided shaking hands.


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